ESPN is reporting that Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell taped a conversation with teammate Nick Young, and the sensitive material has been made public, causing locker room-wide issues for the struggling club.
Earlier this week, a celebrity gossip site shared a brief video from Russell, who was recording teammate Nick Young talking about being with other women, according to the ESPN report. Young is engaged to rapper Iggy Azalea.
The recording was apparently made without Young's knowledge of his being recorded, ESPN reported.
ESPN reports the fallout has been severe:
While it's unclear how the video became public, sources say the resulting tension in the Lakers' locker room in recent days was among the factors that contributed to L.A.'s limp showing in Salt Lake City on Monday night, when they absorbed a 48-point pounding from the Utah Jazz. The loss was the Lakers' worst in franchise history.
Various Lakers officials are aware of the issue and are dismayed with Russell, sources say, but to this point they have chosen not to intervene.
"Right now," one source said, "they're handling it by isolating him."
Austin Brown, Russell's agent from Creative Artists Agency, declined to comment when reached Tuesday.
Said one team insider: "This was a prank gone wrong and a mistake by [Russell], and he has to be held accountable, but I would hope he isn't overly criticized for it."
The emergence of the video, sources said, has been the talk of the locker room for the past several days and has led to a tangible strain between Russell and some teammates.
At a recent breakfast meeting, one source said, no Laker would sit with Russell at his table. The source added that, in another instance, Russell came into the locker room and sat next to guard Lou Williams, who got up and walked away.
"It's bad," one team source told ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne. "It's about as bad as it can get. There were trust issues already. Now there's no trust."
This accentuates the circus-like dysfunction that has surrounded the team. It's bad for Young, for obvious reasons. It's bad for Kobe Bryant, creating a distraction in what's already been a disappointing end to an illustrious career. And it's bad for Russell, who has faced questions about his maturity and character throughout the season, including some aired in public by his coach.
Russell is 20 years old, and young people make mistakes. However, this violation of trust among teammates is not something to be taken lightly, regardless of any individual's judgment of Young's actions. Players have to feel like they can trust one another, and Russell's reported actions would severely break that trust.