D’Angelo Russell

Nets Exercise Options On Three Players

The Nets have exercised team options on three players that make up a substantial part of their young core. The team announced on its website that the 2018/19 options for all of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert have been exercised.

Both Hollis-Jefferson and Russell will be under team control through their fourth seasons, the former having spent the past two years with the squad, the latter arriving in Brooklyn after an offseason trade with the Lakers.

In LeVert’s case, fresh off of his rookie season in Brooklyn, it was his third-year option exercised.

Expect all to see significant time on the court for the Nets in 2017/18 as the franchise claws its way out from a dark chapter in franchise history.

Russell will suit up for the squad having posted 14.2 points per game through two years in Los Angeles. Hollis-Jefferson and LeVert averaged 8.7 and 8.2 points per game in 2016/17, respectively.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Raptors, McDermott

The Nets‘ two best players may very well play the same position so preseason will serve as a good indication of how head coach Kenny Atkinson plans to utilize the tandem. Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes that hoops fans could see the pair of point guards employed together at the beginning and end of halves.

In 24.5 minutes per game for the Nets last season, Lin emerged as a top offensive priority before an injury cut his campaign short. This year, however, the 29-year-old will share backcourt duties with Russell, the 2015 No. 2 overall pick, and the chief haul in general manager Sean Marks‘ deal to take on Timofey Mozgov‘s contract.

I’d like to have one of those guys at the point the whole game. That’d be pretty nice,” Atkinson said when asked how he’ll divvy minutes between the two. “I’m not going to say definitely that’s how it’s going to play out, but that’s in my mind, keeping D’Angelo or Jeremy at the point the whole game.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Powell, Russell

The Celtics made a number of headlines with their acquisitions of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving this summer. Now, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England writes, it’s time to focus on who might make up the core of the team’s second unit.

Having traded Avery Bradley in a cap clearing maneuver to sign Hayward, the Celtics will turn to Terry Rozier to serve as a game-changer off the bench. His ability to pick up scoreer on the perimeter will be valued, as will his ability to knock down shots now that Isaiah Thomas is a Cavalier.

Another player who could see a bigger role with the Celtics in light of the Irving trade is Jayson Tatum. The third-overall pick will see extra opportunities than the C’s may have initially expected now that Jae Crowder is out of the picture.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • While he may well end up playing through the final year of his rookie contract and hitting restricted free agency next summer, Raptors guard Norman Powell is also eligible to sign a contract extension before the start of the regular season. Blake Murphy of The Athletic writes that such a deal could look similar to that which Josh Richardson recently signed with the Heat.
  • Just how well D’Angelo Russell responds to his change of scenery in Brooklyn could impact Nets general manager Sean Marks‘ legacy, Brian Lewis of the New York Post suggests.
  • If Michael Beasley was brought in specifically to replace Carmelo Anthony in the Knicks lineup, it’s news to him. The forward is eager to play alongside the 14-year veteran. “Listen, Carmelo’s been like my mentor,” Beasley told Steve Popper of USA Today. “If you watch my game, really watch my game, my jab series, all that, I’m literally just Carmelo on the left side of the floor. Like I’ve known Carmelo since I was 13 years old, one of my best friends, one of the best players I’ve ever met. Me and him are from the same area. I can’t wait to play with him.”

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.

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