The Brooklyn Nets trade center Brook Lopez and No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA draft to the Los Angeles Lakers for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. The deal helped the Lakers dump Mozgov’s expensive contract in preparation for big signings in the 2018 free agency.
Last summer, the Lakers signed Timofey Mozgov to a four-year, $64 million deal, which they immediately regretted even before the 2016-17 NBA season ended. As most people think, no team would absorb an expensive contract of a former backup center without getting a young player or draft pick. This forced the Lakers to include Russell to throw away Mozgov and his contract.
Lakers-Nets Trade: Why the deal makes sense for LA?
The departure of D’Angelo Russell could be a hint that the Lakers are already locked on Lonzo Ball for the second overall pick. Ball plays the same position as Russell but he’s a better passer and playmaker. Also, the trade allows the Lakers to dump the three years and $54 million left on Mozgov’s contract.
In return, they received Brook Lopez and his expiring $22.6 million deal. Lopez showed massive improvement last season, adding three-point shooting in his game. In 75 games he played, he averaged 20.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks on 47.4 percent shooting from the field and 34.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Compared to Mozgov, there is no doubt that Lopez is the better center on both ends of the floor. If the Lakers will let him go in 2018 free agency, they will have $30 million in cap space. This would give them the opportunity to sign Paul George and another superstar who can help them return to title contention.
George already informed the Indiana Pacers that he’ll leave next summer and play for his hometown team, the Lakers. Aside from George, the Lakers are also keeping an eye on LeBron James, who could be playing his final season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Lakers-Nets Trade: Why the deal make sense for Brooklyn?
After losing multiple first-round picks, the Nets can improve their roster via trade or free agency market. Having the worst record last season, it remains questionable if the Nets can attract incoming free agents. Brooklyn has been eyeing to move Brook Lopez since the February deadline but failed to find a trade partner.
Fortunately, the Lakers, who are loaded with young players and draft picks, came with the goal of clearing cap space. Though they lost Lopez, the Nets acquired D’Angelo Russell, the No. 2 overall pick in 2015 NBA draft.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Nets see Russell as a cornerstone guard to anchor the franchise’s rebuild along with Caris Levert. Russell may have been inconsistent in his first two seasons in the league but there is no doubt that he has the potential to become a superstar.