The Los Angeles Lakers are trading D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the No. 27 overall pick in this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports.
It appears as though this reported trade could potentially benefit both parties involved. For the Lakers, they’re are able to free up a significant amount of cap space by trading Mozgov and the remainder of the four-year, $64 million contract he signed last summer. In addition, the Lakers pick up an additional first-round pick in this year’s draft and now have three first-round picks in total: Nos. 2, 27 and 28.
Meanwhile, the Nets were able to trade Lopez and his expiring contract for real value. He’ll enter the 2017-18 season on the final year of his contract, which will pay him $22,642,350. In addition, the Nets pick up a promising young point guard in Russell. The Nets struggled this season at the point guard position due to injuries to Jeremy Lin and adding Russell could give the team a long-term solution at the position.
Lopez is coming off of one of his most productive seasons with the Nets. The eight-year veteran averaged 20.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 blocks per game. He also shot a career-high 34.6 percent from three-point range. The addition of a talented veteran like Lopez will likely help the Lakers improve from their 26-56 record this season.
Russell, the second-overall pick in 2015, is coming off of a season in which he averaged 15.6 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game for the Lakers. The idea of trading the former No. 2 pick may not be all that surprising considering that Magic Johnson has openly questioned Russell’s desire to be great. None of the Lakers’ front office that drafted Russell remains with the team and Johnson likely wanted to start fresh with his own group of players.
By trading Russell, it likely means the Lakers are locked in on drafting Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick on Thursday night. Many have speculated in recent weeks that the Lakers would draft Ball given the fact that Ball grew up in California and played at UCLA. With Ball likely being drafted by the Lakers, questions began to surface on how Ball and Russell could play together on the court. By trading Russell, this is no longer an issue.
By ridding themselves of Mozgov’s contract, the Lakers clear a large amount of guaranteed money, which could significantly help the team’s chances of going after Paul George — either by acquiring him in a trade this summer or signing him next summer in free agency. The team has also been rumored to be a potential destination for LeBron James should he opt to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers after next season.
Adding an additional draft pick in this year’s draft figures to help the Lakers potentially acquire George this summer. The Pacers would likely be seeking younger players and draft picks in any potential deal for George and the Lakers would be able to package the No. 27 and No. 28 picks in Thursday’s draft for him. The Pacers could be motivated to trade George before the draft so they can ensure they draft the players they really want.
Regardless of what happens before now and the draft, it appears as though the Lakers are making a strong play to acquire George.
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