Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical first broke the news Tuesday evening.
Lakers are trading Tim Mozgov and D'Angelo Russell to Nets for Brook Lopez and 27th pick Thursday, sources say.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 20, 2017
Brook Lopez Traded to Los Angeles Lakers for D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov
Lakers Free Up Cap Space for Future
For the Lakers, this move clears up cap space by getting Mozgov’s contract off the books. The team would have had to pay him $48 million over the next three years. Now they can focus their efforts towards trading for Paul George or waiting to sign him and/or potentially LeBron James in the summer of 2018. This trade puts them in better position to make a splash in free agency next summer.
The Lakers also add Brook Lopez, a seven footer who proved last year he can extend his range beyond the three point line. Lopez will be a free agent after this season, making it unclear as to whether or not the 29-year old will be in Magic Johnson‘s future plans.
Getting rid of Mozgov and adding Lopez should be viewed as successes, but the Lakers paid a steep price to make this happen. By parting ways with D’Angelo Russell, whom the franchise drafted second overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Lakers are getting rid of the player who just yesterday appeared to be a major part of their future. For the past year, it seemed as if Los Angeles was planning to build through the draft instead of jumping after potential free agents. If this trade is any indication, it appears as if that strategy was short-lived for the Lakers.
This trade also likely clears the path to select Lonzo Ball on Thursday night. There were questions as to whether Ball and Russell would be able to play well together. Now that Russell is in Brooklyn, Ball will have the point guard position to himself in Hollywood.
The Lakers now have the 2nd, 27th, and 28th overall picks in the 2017 NBA Draft. Will any of them be involved in a trade for Paul George? Stay tuned.
Brooklyn Adds a Young Building Block
As for the Nets, this trade gives them a building block to look towards the future with. With his new team, Russell is now in great position to blossom into a star. Head coach Kenny Atkinson is known as an excellent coach for player development, and the Nets are by no means in any position to rush through Russell’s development as a player. Keep in mind the former Ohio State Buckeye is just 21 years old; there is plenty of room for growth and maturity. D’Angelo Russell is now the future of the Brooklyn Nets.
With excess cap room and few future draft selections, it makes complete sense for the Nets to take on Mozgov’s bad contract in order to acquire young talent. The cap room spent on Mozgov, used to facilitate the acquisition of Russell, would have likely been spent to overpay for a below average player in free agency. Think back to last off-season when the Nets offered $125 million to Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson. Why use cap room to overpay for players like Crabbe and Johnson when you can use $48 million over three years to help trade for D’Angelo Russell? This is a crafty and wise move by general manager Sean Marks.
With Brook Lopez now gone, it’s time to appreciate what he has meant for this Nets franchise. Lopez has been with the Nets for nine years and has been through quite a lot. He was there during the 12-70 season, the move to Brooklyn, the Kevin Garnett–Paul Pierce experiment, and much more. Lopez also probably dealt with the most trade rumors (remember the Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony trade rumors five or so years ago?) despite not actually being traded. Nets fans should show nothing but gratitude to their leading scorer in franchise history, an accolade he achieved this past season.
LOS ANGELES, USA – APRIL 6: D’Angelo Russell of Los Angeles Lakers gestures during the NBA match between Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, in Los Angeles, USA on April 6, 2016.
(Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)