D’Angelo Russell

Atlantic Notes: Russell, Henderson, Covington, Yabusele

D’Angelo Russell‘s first reaction upon being traded from the Lakers to the Nets was excitement over the new opportunity, relays Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily. Russell touched on a wide variety of topics during an interview today on WFAN with Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts. He believes the Nets have an “underrated group of guys” with a mixture of young players and veterans who are ready to exceed expectations.

Russell also brushed aside comments from Lakers executive Magic Johnson about needing a leader and said he’s not upset about being traded. “It’s business, man. That’s how I got to look at it,” Russell said. “A lot of things happen in this league and you don’t agree with it or however you may feel about it and at the end of the day realize it’s business.”

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets will probably add one more veteran before camp, but not on a guaranteed deal, according to a tweet from NetsDaily. Brooklyn still has a little bit of cap space remaining.
  • Former Sixers guard Gerald Henderson underwent surgery today to repair his left hip, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. His agent, Jim Tanner, confirmed the surgery and said Henderson will start rehab next week in hopes of returning to the NBA, although there is concern he could be sidelined for the entire season. Philadelphia waived Henderson at the end of June before his $9MM salary for next year became guaranteed.
  • Sixers forward Robert Covington is an “X factor” on a roster filled with young talent, writes Dennis Chambers of Basketball Insiders. The 26-year-old has been a fixture in Philadelphia’s starting lineup over the past three seasons and provides a blend of 3-point shooting and defense, finishing third in the league last year in Defensive Real Plus-Minus. Covington is entering the final year of his contract at $1.577MM and Chambers speculates that the team wants to get an extension done soon.
  • Draft-and-stash Celtics big man Guerschon Yabusele is reporting progress after having bone spurs removed from both ankles in May, relays Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Yabusele is looking forward to joining the Celtics this upcoming season after spending last year in China and the G League. He believes he’s close to being medically cleared for a full-speed, on-court workout. “I’ve been running a little bit and doing some bike stuff and just keeping my ankle moving,” Yabusele said. “But I’m ready to go.”

Latest On Paul George

There’s a near-unanimous view around the league that Paul George will sign with the Lakers next summer despite Friday’s trade to the Thunder, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Lowe states that the chances of George heading to L.A. are about 75%, and the Celtics and Cavaliers had that in mind as they were working to obtain him.

The Lakers also subscribe to that view, which is why they weren’t willing to part with Brandon Ingram or Lonzo Ball to get George from the Pacers now. Lowe adds that Indiana didn’t have any interest in former Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell, who was subsequently dealt to the Nets.

The ESPN writer shares more information about Friday’s major deal:

  • The Celtics wanted to see if they could land Gordon Hayward in free agency before completing a trade for George. They were reluctant to deal two starters in exchange for George without knowing whether they were getting Hayward.
  • Boston’s last offer for George didn’t include Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, the 2018 Nets pick or the Lakers/Kings pick that Boston received from Philadelphia. There were reports that the Celtics offered Indiana three picks at some point, but Lowe believes those were a combination of Boston’s future selections and protected 2019 first-rounders from the Grizzlies and Clippers. All of those draft choices could have fallen into the 20s, Lowe notes, and the Pacers wanted something more likely to be in the top 10.
  • A three-way trade involving the Pacers, Cavaliers and Nuggets was discussed on Friday. The deal would have sent George to Cleveland, Kevin Love to Denver and Gary Harris, Trey Lyles and a protected first-rounder to Indiana. Lowe describes the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Celtics as “stunned” when news broke that George was headed to Oklahoma City.
  • The Trail Blazers tried to get George on draft night, offering a package that included several picks and at least one player, but the Pacers turned it down.

D’Angelo Russell ‘Surprised’ By Trade To Brooklyn

With current Nets players practicing on the court behind the main stage, Brooklyn’s newest acquisitions, D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov, were showcased for the first time on Monday at the team’s practice facility.DSCN8568

Acquired from the Lakers in a blockbuster trade last week, the 21-year-old point guard and NBA champion center now join a rebuilding Nets franchise coming off a season in which the team had a league-worst 20-62 record. After two controversial years in Los Angeles, the former second overall pick Russell is excited about his fresh start.

“I was surprised,” Russell told the media – including Hoops Rumors – today. “I’ve never really been traded before and I didn’t know what to expect.”

On his way out of California, Russell was seemingly criticized by Lakers president Magic Johnson, who said he selected Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick and traded Russell because he was “looking for a leader.” However, Russell dismissed the criticism and expressed his excitement in moving from one big city to another.

“I can’t control what they [the Lakers] say. I’m gone so it’s the past,” Russell said. “Being 21 [years old], living in Los Angeles and coming to New York is not a complaint for me or my family.”

As for Mozgov, the 30-year-old Russian joins Brooklyn with three years left on the four-year, $64MM albatross of a contract he signed with the Lakers last season. Mozgov averaged 7.4 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 54 games (52 starts) last season and frequently received DNP-CDs late in the season so that the Lakers could play their youngsters.

The former NBA champion with the 2015/16 Cavaliers is familiar with New York City. Mozgov had a 34-game cameo with the Knicks in 2010/11 before he was traded to Nuggets as part of the deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York. In that brief time, then-Knicks assistant coach and current Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson saw the 7’1″ center develop – and believes Mozgov will be an asset in 2017/18.

“Timmy fits perfectly [in our system], he’s a competitive player, he’s a guy that loves to run the court he’s a physical player, and I think he rolls to the rim on pick and roll, which we love,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “At the end of the day, I love the person…so he fits perfectly in what we’re trying to build.”

Unless the Nets acquire another center, Mozgov figures to open the 2017/18 season as the starting big man in Brooklyn. The Nets will miss Brook Lopez – who was sent to the Lakers in the trade for the Nets’ new duo – and his three-point shooting. After attempting just 31 threes in his first eight years with the Nets, Lopez added a long-range game last season, making almost 35% (134 for 387) of his shots from beyond the arc. Mozgov has attempted 40 treys in his career and made just seven (17.5%) in his career, but will do what is asked of him.

“We’ll see if coach lets me shoot. [If he does], I will shoot,” Mozgov said. “I’m the guy who does whatever coach tells me to do; if he says shoot from half court, I will shoot from half court.”

Trust will be the key for a young Nets team. Russell was at the center of a highly publicized off-court saga with former teammate Nick Young in Los Angeles and his maturity was also questioned. The young point guard has already shown early signs of dedication, posting an Instagram video of him working out at the Nets’ practice facility late Sunday morning. Russell also mentioned speaking with Jeremy Lin and other Nets teammates about functioning well next season.

“It’s going to take time, not just D’Angelo, but anybody coming into the organization,” Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said. “To develop trust and respect, I think he’s well on his way to doing it.

“There’s been some criticism and some doubts about him, but we’re a positive culture, positive coaching staff,” Atkinson added. “We’ll hold him accountable and be honest with him and that’s how guys better. He’s got a clean slate with us.”

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Clippers, Russell, McGee

As free agency nears, the Lakers may avoid signing players to contracts that extend past 2017/18 for fear of eating into potential Paul George cap space, Justin J. Page of ESPN writes. The club is currently expected to have $18MM to work with this summer and potentially over $40MM next summer, depending on the status of Julius Randle.

Considering that the key here would be to retain flexibility to make a move for George when he officially hits free agency in 2018, the Lakers could zero in on players with one-year deals when the 2017 free agency period begins next week. Los Angeles could justifiably overpay for players in 2017/18 so long as they come with team options for anything beyond that.

Page also writes that fans can expect the franchise to continue shedding as much salary as possible, the primary target being Luol Deng and the $54MM remaining over the course of the last three years of his deal.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

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.
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