The Los Angeles Lakers are moving on from D’Angelo Russell, trading the former No. 2 overall pick to the Brooklyn Nets for center Brook Lopez, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Magic Johnson and the Lakers are also shifting center Timofey Mozgov to the Nets in the deal.
Russell, who was selected with the second pick in the 2015 NBA Draft behind only Karl-Anthony Towns, has been a bit of a disappointment in his early tenure with the Lakers and will now move onto the rebuilding Brooklyn Nets and presumably run the show there. In his rookie campaign, Russell averaged 13.2 ppg and 3.3 apg — starting just 48 contests. His sophomore season — under new head coach Luke Walton — saw Russell start 60 of the 62 games he played in, averaging 15.6 ppg and 4.8 apg.
Meanwhile, Lopez, has spent all nine of his NBA seasons with the Nets — becoming the franchise’s leading scorer just last year. The 10th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Lopez has one year left on his deal at $22.6 million and will be come an unrestricted free agent after the 2017-2018 season.
Mozgov signed with the Lakers as a free agent last summer, penning a 4-year $64 million deal with the club. Brooklyn will be on the hook for the remaining three years of his deal at an average salary of $16 million per.
As Wojnarowski points out, trading Mozgov frees up ample cap space for the 2018 offseason where the Lakers will be all-in on Indiana Pacers forward Paul George. As was reported earlier today by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein, Los Angeles and Indiana did begin trade talks surrounding the superstar — who has informed the Pacers of his desire to leave the franchise when his contract expires at the end of the upcoming season.
But as TNT’s David Aldridge notes, now that the Lakers have freed themselves of Mozgov’s burdensome deal — they no longer need to give up assets for George, instead they can wait until next summer to sign him as a free agent.
Surely, the Pacers will be motivated to move George rather than lose him for nothing, so it’s reasonable to expect the rental market for the 27-year-old to heat up.