In his first post-practice press scrum since the Warriors traded D'Angelo Russell for Andrew Wiggins, coach Steve Kerr told reporters that he thought something was off about the addition of the former Nets guard back when Golden State acquired him in a sign-and-trade in July. He also acknowledged that the team's front office shared the speculation that circulated at the time of the signing.
"To be perfectly blunt, the fit was questionable when we signed him," Kerr told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. "When you already have Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson] and you add a ball-dominant guard, you can rightfully question the fit. That was one of the reasons the trade rumors started before the season even began, and I think D'Angelo understood that when he signed the contract. Our organization understood that as well."
For reference, the Warriors getting Russell was immediately met with theories that Golden State had only brought the 23-year-old onto the team to use him as a trade chip later in the season. Initially, these rumors were met with a rather dismissive tone from Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers, who told reporters in July that the team "didn't sign him with the intention of trading him," before firing off a quip about how he understands how the media operates in today's day and age. Ethan Strauss of The Athletic later wrote in October that the Golden State front office finally had him convinced that they intended to keep Russell "after doing a little digging."
Kerr also seemed to be all-in on the new signing before the season started, speaking highly of Russell's fit in August.
This isn't to accuse the Warriors of being hypocrites--it's easier to be optimistic about a season in August than it is right before the All-Star break, and there's no point in being a blunt defeatist in the summer--but rather point out how strongly the pendulum of positive opinion towards Russell has swung in the opposite direction. As Slater reported on Thursday, "Voices that matter in the locker room soured on Russell as a long-term fit rather quickly. He wasn't a disruptive personality, just not a beneficial component to a winning defense or a correct fit positionally, considering the two soon-to-return star guards are franchise pillars."
Meanwhile, Kerr also decided on Friday to dish out his take on adding Wiggins to the roster. He spoke highly of how Wiggins's fit will make sense because he's a player who can actually play alongside Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green.
"I think that's where Andrew can make some strides," he said. "Feeding off of the guys around him, but also be in a position to move the ball onto those guys. On paper, it looks like a good fit, but again, it's up to us as a group to make it work."
With qualifying statements like that, it appears that the lessons learned from the Russell experiment have already started to take shape.