Last season the Los Angeles Lakers finished at 17-65, the worst record in franchise history.  They have a lot of young players including new franchise cornerstone D’Angelo Russell, but training them took a back seat to Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour and now Russell is ready for a fresh start.

“Last off-season was Looney Tunes,” Russell said to the Los Angeles Times‘ Tania Ganguli . “Wasn’t real. I didn’t get nothing out of it.”

Last season, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak literally said that it was about Kobe’s farewell tour over the development of young players.

“He (Kobe) deserved it; it was his time,” Russell said. “They expected so much from so many people, and then Kobe had his farewell tour, and it was just like, we put everything we had, expectations for everybody else, on hold. We gotta get through Kobe’s farewell tour and then we can continue with our process. So we kind of accepted that.”

Russell also had to deal with coach Byron Scott, a Kobe Bryant fanboy whom Russell publicly clashed with.  Scott often limited Russell’s playing time, even taking away his status as a starter for part of the season.

“Everything I went through was new, and there was no guidance from the people that were supposed to give me the guidance,” Russell said.

Russell averaged 13.2 points and 3.3 assists in 28.2 minutes per game.

“It could have been better,” he said. “It was my first year. I did the best I could do with what I could control. I’m not ashamed of it.”

This off-season has been different for the second overall pick of the 2015 draft.

“Fun,” Russell said. “Real fun. The team, I feel like, is growing.”

The 2016-17 season feels like a second rookie year for Russell.  He feels he’ll be able to better harness his potential and they have a new coach, Luke Walton, who previously was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors.

“I feel like if I came into the league this year, in this environment, it wouldn’t have been as tough,” Russell said. “Even if Kobe was here, it still wouldn’t have been as tough…

“The coaching staff, the whole atmosphere that this coaching staff brings is different. I’m not saying better, I’m not downgrading the last coaching staff. I’m just saying the atmosphere they bring every day is a winning mentality.”

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