D’Angelo Russell

Lakers Acquire Brook Lopez For Russell, Mozgov

JUNE 22: The trade is finally official, the NBA announced tonight during the draft. The Lakers used their newly-acquired 27th overall pick on Kyle Kuzma.

JUNE 20: The Lakers and Nets have reached an agreement on a trade that will send Brook Lopez to Los Angeles, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Wojnarowski reports that the Lakers will also receive the No. 27 pick in this week’s draft, and will send D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets.BrookLopez vertical

This deal is a fascinating one on several levels. For the Lakers, they manage to cut long-term costs by getting out from under Mozgov’s contract, which still has three years and $48MM left on it. In Lopez, the Lakers will acquire a more productive player on the court, and one whose deal expires at the end of the 2017/18 season, setting the franchise up to create an extra chunk of cap room when LeBron James, Paul George, and other stars reach free agency.

In addition to picking up Lopez, the Lakers will also get a third first-round pick in this Thursday’s draft. The team now holds the second, 27th, and 28th overall selections, and with Russell no longer in the fold, it appears more certain than ever that Los Angeles has its eye on Lonzo Ball with that No. 2 overall pick.

Meanwhile, the Nets will finally bring years of Lopez trade speculation to an end, sending him to Los Angeles with one year remaining on his contract. In exchange for Lopez, a first-round pick, and their willingness to assume Mozgov’s huge contract, the Nets will land their point guard of the future in Russell, the second overall pick from the 2015 draft. The team also hangs onto its second 2017 first-round pick (No. 22).

Russell, who is still just 21 years old, has faced scrutiny about his work ethic and his drive, but his talent is undeniable. In 63 games last season for the Lakers, the young point guard averaged 15.6 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.5 RPG, and 1.4 SPG in a modest 28.7 minutes per contest. He has also developed into a reliable three-point threat, averaging 2.1 threes per game at a rate of 35.2%. He’ll be under contract for at least two more years, becoming extension-eligible in 2018 and RFA-eligible in 2019.

With Russell and Jeremy Lin now in the mix, the Nets are unlikely to be in the market for a point guard this summer, which means another potential suitor is off the board for top free agents at the position seeking a payday. Brooklyn had been viewed as a potential player for George Hill, among other free agent point guards.

Finally, the Celtics will be watching the outcome of this trade with a close eye, since Boston may end up with both the Nets’ and Lakers’ first-round picks in the 2018 NBA draft. With the draft and free agency still to play out, it’s hard to tell at this point whether either team will improve significantly in 2017/18, but Lopez was the Nets’ most productive player last season, so this isn’t exactly a win-now move for Brooklyn — that bodes well for the C’s.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers-Nets Trade: Notes, Reactions, More

The Lakers started clearing the future cap room necessary to add stars to their roster with Tuesday’s trade that sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in Thursday’s draft.

L.A. would need about $66.3MM in cap space to sign both Paul George and LeBron James to max deals next summer, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. The Lakers currently project to have about $36MM in cap room for 2018 but they can push that figure past $48MM by unloading Julius Randle, who will have a $12.4MM cap hold. Options to create the rest of the needed space include finding a taker for Jordan Clarkson – who will make $12.5MM in 2018/19 – or stretching Luol Deng, who has three years and $53MM+ left on his contract.

If the Lakers wind up trading for George by sending Clarkson and the 27th and 28th picks in this year’s draft to Indiana, then restructures George’s contract to give him a max extension, that would only leave $17.7MM to offer James without another move, Pincus notes.

Several other media members have weighed in on Tuesday’s deal, including what it means for the long-term future of both teams, so let’s round up some more notes…

  • The Lakers no longer believed Russell could be part of their core group moving forward, relays Bill Oram of the Orange County Register. Oram adds that the team is now free to draft Lonzo Ball without worrying about a possible conflict with Russell.
  • New Lakers president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka are already proving to be better at building a team than the old regime was, opines Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Pelinka’s familiarity with agents, Ding notes, gives him a significant advantage over former GM Mitch Kupchak.
  • The Nets wanted Russell because they were concerned they might wind up without a point guard next summer, according to a tweet from NetsDaily. Brooklyn had been facing a 2018 decision on whether to re-sign Lopez, along with the possibility that Jeremy Lin would opt out.
  • There was little interest around the NBA in Lopez and Mozgov, tweets NetsDaily. That’s unsurprising in Mozgov’s case, though somewhat surprising for Lopez, who continues to play well and doesn’t have an albatross of a contract.
  • Trading Lopez increases the possibility that the Nets will take a big man with the No. 22 pick on Thursday, per NetsDaily (via Twitter). Still, Mozgov will get a chance to play — he’s the third Russian to play for the franchise in recent years, and team ownership hopes he views that as a unique opportunity (Twitter link).
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider-only link) assigns grades for the deal, giving the Nets (A-) a slightly better mark than the Lakers (B).

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Lakers, Pacers Engage On Paul George Talks

8:40pm: The Lakers engaged the Kings on a potential trade that would have involved the No. 2 pick going to Sacramento in exchange for Nos. 5 and 10, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter links). According to Aldridge, the Lakers’ goal was to package one of those Kings’ picks with one of the Lakers’ late first-rounders and a player in an effort to get George. However, the Kings turned them down.

Meanwhile, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links) hears that the Lakers and Pacers are currently at a “standstill” in their talks, though it remains “highly likely” that Indiana will move George this week.

6:11pm: In the wake of their trade agreement with the Nets, the Lakers have offered the Pacers either Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle along with the No. 27 and No. 28 picks in exchange for George, according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). ESPN’s Marc Stein also reported the details of that package (via Twitter).

1:56pm: The Lakers and Pacers have engaged on trade talks for Paul George, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne. No deal is imminent at this point.

Los Angeles is considered George’s likely destination in 2018, raising questions about how aggressive the Lakers would be on the trade market for him. If the Lakers expect George to sign with them as a free agent a year from now, there would be little reason for the club to pursue him now and give up key assets to land him. However, it appears the Lakers are at least kicking the tires on what it would take to acquire George and get him in the fold sooner rather than later.

As for what the Lakers may be willing to offer, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested earlier this week that the club isn’t expected to put the No. 2 overall pick or Brandon Ingram on the table. Wojnarowski said that a combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 28 pick might be the most the Lakers are open to giving up, though there’s no indication yet that those are the players being discussed by the two teams.

D’Angelo Russell is another player the Lakers could make available in George talks — ESPN’s Chad Ford reported (via Twitter) that the team may be dangling Russell in an effort to pick up another lottery pick. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders suggests (via Twitter) that’s not accurate, noting that Russell and George share an agent, who would likely prefer to see his two clients together in L.A. (Twitter link) — Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) confirms as much. For what it’s worth, Randle is an Aaron Mintz client as well.

If the Lakers and Pacers make a serious effort to work out a deal, don’t expect Luol Deng or Timofey Mozgov to be involved. The Lakers are resisting that sort of salary dump at this point, since it would cost them draft picks or a young player, tweets Wojnarowski. Pincus adds (via Twitter) that removing Deng and/or Mozgov from the Lakers’ cap likely won’t become a priority until 2018, when the team goes after free agents.

While the Lakers are George’s preferred destination, a number of teams are reportedly exploring the possibility of landing the star forward, even as a one-year rental. The Clippers, Cavaliers, and Rockets have been cited as possible trade partners for Indiana, and according to Amico Hoops, the Wizards are also investigating the possibility of a deal.

Lakers Rumors: Ball, Russell, Randle, LeBron

ESPN’s Chad Ford reported earlier today that sources believe the Lakers moved “closer and closer” over the weekend to making Lonzo Ball their pick at No. 2, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report shares a similar sentiment in his latest column. According to Ding, the Lakers are “nearing a final decision” to use the second overall pick on Ball.

Team sources tell Ding that there are still some additional discussions and final planning that will take place before the Lakers are on the clock on Thursday, but Ball’s second pre-draft meeting with the club on Friday was a productive one. An “appreciation for Ball’s all-around upside” has emerged within the Lakers in recent weeks, according to Ding.

Here are a few more Lakers-related notes and rumors:

  • There are ongoing questions within the Lakers’ organization about how D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle take criticism, team sources tell Ding within the article linked above. Neither player advanced as far in 2016/17 as Luke Walton had hoped, according to Ding, who says Russell was “inconsistent with his professionalism” while Randle “often lost messages given to him if they were delivered harshly.”
  • Trading Jordan Clarkson for a current or future draft pick would make “a ton of sense” for the Lakers, given their desire to continue stockpiling assets and maintaining cap flexibility, says Ding. Clarkson is rumored to be on the trade block.
  • Ding also touches on the LeBron James rumors that have surfaced within the last week or two, citing sources who say that James’ wife would like to live in Los Angeles full-time. Multiple recent reports have suggested that LeBron opting out and joining one of the L.A. teams in 2018 is a possibility.
  • League sources tell Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link) that the Lakers have expressed no interest in trading the No. 2 overall pick at this juncture. We heard last week that L.A. was “taking and making calls” related to that selection, but it seems those calls may not be happening anymore.
  • Mark Medina of The Orange County Reigster spoke to former Gonzaga big man Zach Collins following his Monday workout with the Lakers, suggesting that Collins will likely only be on L.A.’s radar if the team makes a trade. We heard this morning that the Lakers may be trying to acquire a second lottery pick.

Clippers Express Interest In Paul George

The Clippers have expressed interest in Paul George, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. For Los Angeles to be a serious contender in the George sweepstakes, the Pacers would likely have to be willing to wait until July to finalize a trade.

As Deveney writes, the Clippers’ best chance to make a trade involving a highly-paid player like George would involve signing-and-trading one of their top free agents. While Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will be among those free agents, the Clips’ dream scenario would likely be using another UFA, J.J. Redick, in a sign-and-trade, then forming a Big Four with Paul, Griffin, George, and DeAndre Jordan.

That scenario is probably a long shot, since the Clippers don’t have first-round picks in 2017 or 2019, and acquiring Redick on an expensive new deal may not appeal to Indiana. But if any team besides the Lakers should feel confident in its ability to lock up George beyond 2018, the Clippers might might be that team, given their ability to get PG13 to his preferred city.

Here are several more George rumors or notes, in the wake of Sunday’s report that he plans on leaving the Pacers:

  • The Cavaliers and Pacers have been immersed in trade talks regarding George, league sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. According to Amico, Cleveland’s interest in George has been described as “legit,” but pulling off a deal could be “very complicated.”
  • Two NBA sources who spoke to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) expect the Lakers to get involved in George trade talks if it appears the Cavaliers are moving close to a deal. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links) is skeptical that the Lakers would move young players like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle for George, suggesting that Jordan Clarkson is a more likely trade candidate. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that the Lakers currently appear unwilling to part with any of their young assets in a trade with the Pacers.
  • The Rockets are worth keeping an eye on in the George sweepstakes, according to Sean Deveney, who observes that Daryl Morey is generally willing to roll the dice on impact players without getting a long-term commitment.
  • The Heat like George, but – given their lack of tradeable first-round picks – probably don’t have the assets to acquire him, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Lakers Notes: George, Ball, Russell, Workout

The Lakers will have to unload some salary before next summer to offer Paul George a maximum contract, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical. George has informed the Pacers that he plans to opt out after next season and hopes to sign with L.A. The franchise would need roughly $30.6MM in cap room to fit in a full max deal for 2018/19, and right now there’s only about $15.6MM available (Twitter link). That number assumes they make both of their first-round picks this year and renounce all their free agents this summer and next summer except for Julius Randle.

To create more space, the Lakers would have to either renounce Randle, a valuable young talent, or trade one of their big-money contracts in Luol Deng ($18MM for 2018/19) Timofey Mozgov ($16MM) or Jordan Clarkson ($12.5MM), according to Marks (Twitter link). Another option is to use the stretch provision, which would amount to paying Deng $7.2MM and Mozgov $6.4MM over the next five years (Twitter link)

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The news about George makes the Lakers more likely to draft Lonzo Ball, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. The team is reportedly deciding between Ball and Kansas forward Josh Jackson, but the expected addition of George reduces the need for Jackson.
  • Immaturity remains a concern with incumbent point guard D’Angelo Russell, according to Mark Heisler of The Los Angeles Daily News. Russell, who might be moved to shooting guard if Ball is selected, doesn’t have point guard instincts after switching to the position during his single season at Ohio State. Heisler also shares concerns that Russell is partying too much and that coach Luke Walton has grown tired of the “post-adolescent” nature of the team.
  • Johnny Buss tells Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that he lost his passion for owning the Lakers when his father Jerry died in 2013. Johnny Buss resigned as members of the board of directors during the season after a failed attempt to take over control of the team. “If anybody thought that Johnny or Jeanie or Jimmy or any of his kids could fill his shoes, they’re grandly mistaken,” Buss said. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person. So all we could do was try to stay together and do what he asked us to do and that was to make as much money as possible. Create a franchise that was worth billions.”
  • The Lakers will bring in six players Monday for a pre-draft workout, the team announced via Twitter. They are Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, Clemson’s Avry Holmes, Creighton’s Cole Huff, Cal-Irvine’s Luke Nelson, Columbia’s Luke Petrasek and Alabama-Huntsville’s Seab Webster.

Pacific Notes: Gay, Inglewood, Clarkson

Expect Rudy Gay to pursue a playoff contender this offseason, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes, even if that takes him away from the Kings. The veteran could serve a valuable role with a competitive team given his proven ability to score the ball but where does that leave Sacramento?

That Gay is expecting to test the market is nothing new, he said as much last September. Not even the early season success that the Kings enjoyed in 2016/17 or the shroud of uncertainty cast when the forward tore his Achilles midseason could dissuade him from betting on himself in the open market.

Gay’s absence in the latter half of last campaign revealed the fact that whether Gay is on the sidelines or with another franchise altogether the Kings are in desperate need of a forward with size. Undersized shooting guards, Jones says, only compromise head coach Dave Joerger‘s defense.

The team has in-house options to audition at the 3, including 2016 first-rounder Malachi Richardson, but would be wise to target players like Jayson Tatum or Justin Jackson in the upcoming NBA Draft. Kings draft-and-stash prospect Bogdan Bogdanovic could ultimately address the need as well, Jones adds.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Mason, Clippers, Reed

A Lakers backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Lonzo Ball might be potent offensively but a liability defensively, as Eric Pincus examines in a Bleacher Report piece. Russell could run pick-and-rolls, while Ball would excel in transition and ball movement, though neither tends to attack off the dribble, Pincus continues. The biggest concern would be on the defensive end because of quickness issues, which would require the Lakers to have a speedy, defensive-minded guard to rotate with both players, Pincus adds.

In other developments around the Pacific Division:
  • Kansas point guard Frank Mason III will work out for the Kings for a second time on Wednesday, according to the team’s website. Mason is considered a second-round prospect — he’s currently ranked No. 45 on Chad Ford’s Big Board. Sacramento, which has the No. 34 overall pick in the second round, will also bring in Kentucky point guard Isaiah Briscoe, UCLA shooting guard Isaac Hamilton, Florida shooting guard Canyon Barry, Indiana center Thomas Bryant and Miami forward Kamari Murphy.
  • The Clippers will bring in FIBA small forward Howard Sant-Roos for workouts later this week, international journalist David Pick tweets. The Cuban-born Sant-Roos, 26, has been playing for CEZ Nymburk in the Czech league, where he averaged 13.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 3.4 APG in 40 games this season.
  • Kansas State shooting guard Wesley Iwundu and Vanderbilt big man Luke Kornet headed the list of six draft hopeful that the Lakers brought in on Monday, the team’s website reported. Iwundu is ranked No. 53 overall by Draft Express, while Kornet comes in at No. 67. The Lakers do not have a second-round pick.
  • Miami shooting guard Davon Reed headlined a group of six players that the Clippers worked out on Monday, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders tweets. Reed is pegged as the No. 76 prospect by Draft Express. Murphy also participated in the workout.

Mavericks Notes: Noel, Russell, Point Guards

Nerlens Noel has garnered comparisons to defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler for his rebounding and defensive abilities but injuries have stalled his progression. Following a midseason trade from the 76ers to the Mavericks, Noel posted 8.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 22 games. However, the 23-year-old will need several additional years to hone his game before he’s in that class, Eddie Sefko of Dallas Morning News opines.

Noel has shown glimpses of elite talent in his three NBA seasons but has generally been inconsistent. Sefko acknowledges that if the Mavericks envision a longterm future with Noel as a fixture, he will need two-to-three years of seasoning before he possibly reaches his potential. For his part, Noel, a restricted free agent, expressed his desire to remain in Dallas.

“I love Dallas,” Noel said last month (via The Sporting News). “In my short time here, I’ve really enjoyed it. With the pieces that we have, and the opportunities we’ll be seeing in the near future, I think there’s a lot to be excited for.”

Below are are additional Mavericks notes:

  • In a separate piece, Sefko examines the possibility of the Mavericks pursuing Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers own the second overall pick in the NBA Draft and if they draft UCLA standout Lonzo Ball, having two point guards may be redundant for the Lakers. If Dallas fails to draft a solid point guard, Sefko believes Dallas will call Los Angeles to discuss Russell but the price to acquire a second overall pick from two seasons ago will likely be astronomical.
  • Sefko further delved into the Mavericks’ point guard situation, stating emphatically that the team needs to acquire someone who can shoot. The aforementioned Russell fits the mold as the 21-year-old has averaged 14.3 PPG in his two NBA seasons. In-house options like Devin Harris, Yogi Ferrell, and J.J. Barea are also strong options for Dallas but a more established option makes sense.

Several Teams Evaluating Potential D’Angelo Russell Trades

With the Lakers securing the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft at tonight’s draft lottery, several teams have reportedly begun evaluating potential trades for point guard D’Angelo Russell, sources tell Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fischer.

The former second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft put together a solid sophomore season in Los Angeles. He improved his numbers across the board, posting 15.6 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.5 RPG in 63 games (60 starts). Russell did miss some time due to various knee ailments, which included a PRP injection in his left knee and a mild sprain of the MCL in his right knee.

The former Ohio State University product has shown flashes of his talent but his time has a Laker has been mired in disappointments and run-in’s with teammates. Still, at just 21 years old, he figures to draw strong interest around the league if the Lakers decide to go in another direction.

When the Lakers drew the second overall pick, the attention turned to UCLA product Lonzo Ball, who has been named as the team’s reported top target in the draft. Lonzo’s outspoken father, LaVar Ball, has been pushing for his son to remain in California and join the Lakers, something he reiterated to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne earlier this week.

Oh, he’s going to be a Laker,” he said. “I’m going to keep talking about it until it happens.”

In his lone season with the Bruins, Ball posted 14.6 PPG, 7.6 APG and 6.0 RPG in 36 contests. As Fischer mentions, having Russell and Ball on the same team may be redundant, especially if the Lakers decide to upgrade at others positions.

While Russell is two years Ball’s elder, both athletes are 6’5″ playmakers with scoring ability. With just over a month to go until the draft, and a second overall pick in their possession, the Lakers are in prime position to draft their preferred player, maintain their core assets, and deal from a surplus to upgrade in other areas.

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