June 20, 2017
The Lakers have traded D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.
The move was largely driven by salary cap savings from the Lakers’ perspective. LA opens up an additional $22 million in cap space for the summer of 2018, and a total of nearly $60 million that will allow them to offer two max contracts.
It just so happens that the summer of 2018 free class is expected to include Lebron James, Paul George, Russell Westbrook, and DeMarcus Cousins.
Lopez will be entering the final year of his contract that will pay him just over $22 million in 2017-2018. The 7’0 center was an all-star in 2013, and averaged 20.5 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Nets last season. He also led the NBA in three-point attempts by centers, while making a reasonable 34% of them.
Moving Mozgov was the most significant part of the deal, after he signed a 4-year $64 million contract last summer. He fell out of the Laker rotation midway through the season. However, it was Russell who was a casualty of getting rid of Mozgov’s contract.
Russell was selected #2 overall in the draft by the Lakers two years ago. He averaged 15.6 points and 4.8 assists in 63 games.
It was an up and down two years for the 21-year-old. During his rookie year he video taped his teammate Nick Young admitting that he cheated on his then current fiancee, Iggy Azalea. That video was somehow released onto social media, causing a rift between Russell and his teammates.
This past season he was the team’s starting point, but went down with a knee injury in December, causing him to miss 12 games He was removed from the starting lineup for three games in March. Upon his return, he scored a career-high 40 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He had a strong statistical finish to the season, while starting at shooting guard.
The Lakers continue to be engaged in talks for Paul George according to multiple sources. However, it appears likely that they will keep the #2 overall pick for this Thursday’s draft and select UCLA’s Lonzo Ball with it.