The three-team trade that sent D'Angelo Russell back to the Los Angeles Lakers marked the fourth time a team has traded the point guard in his eight NBA seasons.
But even though Russell is back with the team that drafted him in 2015, he still hasn't spent time more in any place than he did with the Timberwolves over parts of four seasons.
At this point in his career, Russell has developed a thick skin when it comes to the business of the NBA. Or as he put it, "It's the NBA, it's where you've got to normalize things that aren't normal."
When a team trades him, there's no hard feelings, even if Russell thinks they are making a mistake.
"Obviously, it's a situation that came to an end for me," Russell said Friday morning at shootaround before a game at Target Center. "I've been traded a few times and I didn't really have a sense of why. I never really try to look into it. I'm at the point of my career where I am who I am. I've said it before, if a team is going to utilize me and take advantage of me, then, smart team. If not, then opposite of a smart team."
Even if there are lingering feelings over the trade, Russell had nothing but positive things to say about his time living in Minnesota. He said his time here allowed him to become more "family-oriented."
"It allowed me to figure out my life outside of basketball a little more, and it's much appreciated," Russell said. "Fans here were amazing. I have nothing bad to say about Minnesota. If you're not here or you haven't lived here or anything like that, then you're not aware of how good of a city [Minneapolis] is and a sports town, how committed fans are to their sports, things like that. So the city has a lot to offer. They treated me with great respect."
Russell was glad he was going to get the chance to go against former teammates and friend Karl-Anthony Towns after he recovered from a right calf injury and said he wished the best for Naz Reid in Reid's recovery from a broken left wrist bone.
His current team and former team are locked in a battle for playoff positioning with Friday's game helping determine seeding for the playoff or play-in tournament.
Russell also has a few former Wolves by his side in Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley, both of whom were facing the Wolves for the fifth time this season because of how the schedule played out with their stints in Utah and Los Angeles. Even with extra emotion that might be involved, there was still a game those ex-Wolves had to win.
"Obviously we don't want to make it about me having a huge game or a get back," Russell said. "I have a different approach. I really just want to win and play the right way. Come out, and if we get the win, man, I'll feel like I had the best game of my life, honestly. I know what it can do for our season."
Wallets take a big hit
The NBA fined Gobert $25,000 and coach Chris Finch $15,000 for criticizing the officiating following the team's loss Wednesday night in Phoenix.
The fines were announced by Joe Dumars, the NBA's head of basketball operations.
After the game Wednesday, Gobert said the Timberwolves were treated differently from star-filled NBA teams that played in major markets. Finch pointed out the foul differential in the game (24-16), and suggested Suns coach Monty Williams' recent criticism of referees — for which he was fined — had an effect.