Clarkson: 'Don't say anything crazy' comment meant to protect Russell

D'Angelo Russell said he didn't hear Jordan Clarkson's advice until he caught it later that night on SportsCenter. Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Following a victory at the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend in Toronto, Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell was asked what it was like to play free from the reins of Lakers coach Byron Scott.

Before Russell could answer, teammate Jordan Clarkson whispered to him, "Don't say anything crazy." The microphone picked up Clarkson's comment, and the clip went viral.

Clarkson addressed the incident after the Lakers' first post-All-Star break practice on Wednesday, saying he has his teammate's back and simply didn't want Russell to say anything he might regret.

"They were asking some crazy questions when we were up there, and I just didn't want him to get put in a situation where he was looked at as a problem or something," Clarkson said. "We ain't got no problems here. I didn't think they were going to catch me saying it."

Russell said he didn't even know Clarkson had said anything until he saw it being discussed later on television.

"I didn't know he said that until I saw it blow up a little bit on SportsCenter," Russell said. "So I didn't notice."

Russell then clarified that it was difficult to discern much from a meaningless exhibition game, as neither team played particularly hard or initiated much defense.

"There is no defense in that game," Russell said. "Guys are making shots, and it's easy for you to jump the wagon and say some stuff like that. I appreciate Jordan, but I didn't really hear it until I watched it."

Scott, who has clashed with and been notably critical of the 19-year-old Russell this season, said Wednesday's media scrum was the first time he heard of the comments, before adding that he was impressed with Clarkson's on-the-spot words of wisdom.

"I think Jordan was doing a good job giving him some good advice," Scott said. "He was trying to make sure he understood to be careful what you say."

When asked if he plans on finally moving Russell back into the starting lineup, Scott again suggested it would be soon, but wouldn't commit to a time frame. Those holding their breath for change by Friday's home tilt with the San Antonio Spurs likely will be disappointed, though.

"Still thinking about it," Scott said. "I haven't really come to a decision yet. I think as of Friday, at least this upcoming game in San Antonio, the starting lineup will probably be the same. Like I said, I'm still thinking about it, and I know I'm going to do it, but I just don't know when exactly I'm going to do it. But I do know it won't be this Friday."

Russell said he doesn't have a preference to start or come off the bench. Regardless of his role, Russell said he plans on continuing to improve over the final quarter of the season.

"It'd be great," Russell said. "I don't really care about the starting lineup. I don't. I really don't care about the starting lineup. If I'm going to come off the bench, I'll get used to it. When I get in, I'll take advantage of that. And if I'm a starter, I'll get used to that role."

Russell is averaging 12.2 points on 41.5 percent shooting to go along with 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals in 27.1 minutes per game. He has started in 22 of the 53 games he has played in.

The 11-44 Lakers are 3-19 when Russell starts, 8-23 when he comes off the bench and 0-2 when he sits out.