D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young and head coach Byron Scott held a media session before Wednesday’s game against Miami to discuss an ongoing issue between the two players.
Below is a full transcription from the pregame pressers, including Young, who announced a statement rather than taking questions.
Q: On keeping the team’s focus on the game, rather than the incident:
Scott: Just that: Talk about the game, talk about who we play tonight, our opponent, our coverages, the things that we’ve got to do to win the game.
Q: On if he has talked to the team or plans to:
Scott: Like I said, it’s a matter that we’ll deal with internally. And it’s as simple as that and I’ll leave it at that.
Q: On how frustrating the result of the incident has been when he and the team should be focusing on basketball:
Scott: I still am focused on basketball. This is life. You deal with it and you move on. And as the coach of this team, that’s what I have to do: put this to the side and move on and get ready for a basketball game.
Q: On concerns he may have with this affecting the on-court chemistry of the team:
Scott: Obviously you have some concern. We’ll see if it festers during the game or not, but yeah, you have to have some concerns bout it.
Q: On if he feels the incident affected the way the team played during its 48-point loss to Utah on Monday:
Scott: I don’t know. Like I said this morning, I just thought we got our butt kicked. That’s all. We played awful. Utah’s playing for something. Obviously they’re trying to get into the playoffs, and they came out ready to play and we didn’t.
Q: On him saying the team has trust issues on the floor earlier, and whether this incident makes that even more concerning:
Scott: Absolutely. Again, we’re dealing with young guys. So you’ll have some issues, whether it’s trust or chemistry or whatever it may be. But yeah, absolutely.
Q: On how this tests the players’ character and mentality:
Scott: I agree with you there. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We’ll see what type of characters we have in that locker room when it’s all said and done.
Q: On whether or not he’s disappointed with this taking focus away from Kobe Bryant’s final two weeks of his career:
Scott: No, this shall pass as well. But we’re still gonna celebrate Kobe’s last eight games, no matter what. It’s as simple as that. This is just a bump in the road.
Q: On Russell’s progress in earning the team’s on-court trust:
Scott: It’s getting better and better. Obviously this is gonna knock it back a step or two, but like I said, he’s just gotta keep working. Everything else will work out for itself.
Q: On whether he ever had issues between teammates when he was a player:
Scott: I’ve experienced that and more. As a player, you get into fights with teammates: pushing matches, shoving matches, shouting matches. But again, like you said, you just deal with internally and you get past it, because the bottom line is it’s all about the team. I’ve played with players I didn’t like as people. But they’re my teammates and you deal with that. So you don’t necessarily need to like each other to be on a team and get along when it’s for the team. Everybody’s different. So this isn’t something that’s new. As far as teammates go, you have these types of things or issues that come up. Again, like I said, the only thing I’m disappointed about — as I said this morning — is we didn’t handle it internally without it getting out and all you people (the media) here tonight for this instead of the game.
Q: On whether it takes a higher level of professionalism to put this incident aside and play as a team:
Scott: I think it does. Again, we’ve got a very, very young basketball team. They’re going to be tested. These last two weeks are going to be a test. We’ll see how they come through it.
Q: On how dealing with issues like this is affected by whether the team is playing well or not:
Scott: I don’t know. Maybe next year when we’re in that issue to be in the playoffs and maybe something like this happens, then I can answer that question. I don’t know right now. … The teams I’ve played on or coached have never been in this type of situation, so I can’t answer that really.
Q: On when he became aware of the video:
Scott: When I realized it’s out there doesn’t really matter, to be honest with you. That’s irrelevant.
Q: On whether the issue affects whether Young — who has been held out of the Lakers’ last nine games — will regain an in-game role:
Scott: I think Nick has been very professional as far as the last few weeks when I wanted to play the younger guys. And I don’t see that changing.
I don’t want to get into my personal life right now. I think it’s best me and D’Angelo handle the situation we have in a private manner outside the media. I think it’s something we do need to sit down and talk about. That’s about it. What happened is what happened. We’ve got to work on it.
*Note: Young did not answer questions from reporters, instead opting to give a brief statement.
Q: On how he feels about what happened:
Russell: I feel sick as possible. I’ve been asked that question 110 times and my answer and feelings stay the same. I wish I could make things better right away, but I can’t.
Q: On whether he feels like he has put Young’s personal life and relationship in jeopardy:
Russell: Honestly, I do. I’ve always been known as the guy that plays around a lot, and he has been, too. To be around somebody that’s similar with the same, similar characteristics is different. He’s one of the guys that I’ve always talked to about anything, and I’ve cherished our friendship. For me to have an incident like this come up and put it in jeopardy is not what I was intending to do.
Q: On whether he has any idea how the video got released to the public:
Russell: Honestly, no.
Q: On whether the video was a prank on Young:
Russell: No, it wasn’t my intentions. We joked around, played around all the time, said crazy things, and this just got into the wrong things. It wasn’t a prank. It wasn’t something for everyone else to see. It was for my eyes, his eyes only, and that was it.
Q: On whether he and Young have talked about the incident:
Russell: I reached out to him, talked a little bit. I let him know my apologies. I don’t know if they were accepted, but I wouldn’t blame him.
Q: On whether the team has isolated him since the video was released:
Russell: No, I wouldn’t necessarily say that. There’s been a bad vibe, but we’re human. Everybody has a two cents to say. But we’ve got to clear the space and get good air.
Q: On what would make him have that conversation with Young:
Russell: There’s really no explanation for that topic of discussion. But, like I said: We play around and we joke and we laugh and we say things that you don’t really repeat. That was just an incident of playing too much going wrong. I take the full blame for that; recording the video. But leaking the video wasn’t (me).
Q: On whether he sent the video to anybody:
Russell: No, sir. … That’s the two and two I’m trying to put together — me and my team. I have no clue how that got out. If I did, I would definitely tell you guys (the media), but I have no clue.
Q: On whether his friendship with Young gives them a foundation to rehabilitate their relationship:
Russell: Definitely. Like I said, he was considered somebody that I would talk to and you could always get a laugh. Whether you were serious or playing bad, you know Nick’s going to make you laugh. You guys see it firsthand. I wouldn’t consider this a prank or anything I wanted anybody else to see. Like I said, I’m sick and only time can make this feeling go away.
Q: On whether he believes his phone was hacked:
Russell: I’m not going to say I was hacked. I’m not going to say I leaked it. I don’t have a clue how it got out there, and, like I said, if I knew the answer to that I would let you guys know. But I know I didn’t put that out there.
Q: On how much this hurts the trust that the team has in him:
Russell: I know if I’ve lost anybody’s trust I’ll work my tail off to gain it back, because that’s something you need for a winning team. You need everybody to trust each other. You need the first guy to trust the 15th guy. That’s my intention.
Q: On what he’s heard from other players from around the NBA:
Russell: I’ve talked to a few players separately just to get their input on how to go about it. At this point, the damage has been done. The best thing that you can do is just own up to it, and that’s what I did. I’ve owned up to it for full effect and just take what comes with it.