Courtesy of Sports Logos News
In the most shocking move of the offseason so far, the Los Angeles Lakers parted ways with 2015 second overall pick D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov, sending them to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th overall.
The reason the Lakers were so willing to move a player they were so high on was because it allowed them to get rid of Mozgov, who has a contract that was going to handicap them in free agency in the future. Losing a player with Russell’s upside could end up being a steep price to pay to give yourself flexibility, but it seems definite that the Lakers will get a big name free agent like Paul George or even have a chance at LeBron James 12 months down the line.
Lopez will likely serve as a one year rental as a solid big before his $23M contract expires after the upcoming season. In a year that the Lakers don’t own their first round pick, it can’t hurt to take a proven veteran like Lopez.
The sneaky part of this deal is the Lakers getting the 27th pick. They already own the 2nd pick, but also the 28th pick. Reports have surfaced in the last few days that they’re looking to obtain another pick in the first half of round one, having two late picks can certainly help them move up.
Meanwhile, the Nets just pulled off the type of trade that they should have been already doing frequently. They have no assets of major value, aside from their cap space. When a team is desperate to get rid of a hefty contract and are willing to give up a valuable asset to do so, the Nets should always be the first team to call.
When you’re the worst team in the NBA, getting a player like Russell who was considered a future superstar by many just 36 months ago for a 28 year old center on an expiring contract is a huge win.
Whether or not one is of the opinion that the Lakers won or lost this trade, the fact is they made a mistake last July, not this week. Giving Timofey Mozgov (and Luol Deng) huge contracts seemed careless at the time, and that carelessness costed them a great young asset.