Kyle Kuzma

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.

Draft Notes: Smith Jr., Collins, Leaf, Sixers

The Lakers have a short list of players they’re said to be targeting with the No. 2 pick in this year’s NBA Draft but they opted to bring North Carolina State guard Dennis Smith Jr. for a workout just in case they trade down, Mark Medina of the Orange County Register writes.

Smith Jr., a possible top-10 pick, participated in a group workout this weekend with a series of other draft hopefuls, including Syracuse’s Tyler Lydon. The guard impressed in the audition, his talent a cut above the rest.

Smith Jr. was sure to do his homework prior to his day with the Lakers and thinks that he can fill a void.

I checked one of the stats and they’re bottom 10 in almost everything relative to pick-and-roll scoring,” he said. “I think I can contribute to that.

There are more draft notes from around the league:

  • While he may not be around when the Jazz pick 24th in this month’s draft, TJ Leaf believes he would be a good fit with the franchise, Jody Genessy of the Deseret News writes. “Obviously draft number’s a big deal as well, but if I drop a couple of places and go to a team with a perfect fit, that’s who we want,” Leaf said after a recent workout in Utah. “We see a team like this — great coach, great system — and I think I’d fit well here, so that’s why I scheduled this one.
  • After an unexpectedly dominant first season at Gonzaga, Zach Collins is a potential one-and-done lottery pick. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee recently profiled the sharp-shooting big man, offering him up as a legitimate option for when the Kings pick at No. 10.
  • The Sixers will bring in Kyle Kuzma of Utah and Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame for workouts tomorrow, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Kuzma is projected as a late first-round pick by NBADraft.net, while Blossomgame is expected to drop into the second round. Billy Garrett (DePaul), Jalen Moore (Utah State), V.J. Beachem (Notre Dame), and Dominique Hawkins (Kentucky) will also audition for Philadelphia.

Draft Notes: Ball, Lakers, Pre-Draft Workouts

There has been much innuendo and rumor in recent weeks that Lonzo Ball would not necessarily be taken by the Lakers with their second overall pick. Still, a majority of executives at the adidas EuroCamp expect the Lakers to draft Ball second, reports Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com (link via Twitter). Howard goes on to state that these executives believe that the purple and gold like De’Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson, but still lean towards Ball.

Check out the latest news in pre-draft workouts here:

Southeast Notes: Hayward, Hornets, Hawks, Workouts

The Heat have the flexibility to sign Gordon Hayward and create room for another top-level free agent, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. A report Friday said the Jazz consider Miami a legitimate threat to sign the free agent forward, who is coming off the best season of his career. In response to a reader’s question, Winderman notes that the Heat can give $30MM to Hayward and open up another $23MM or so by trading Tyler Johnson, Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow. However, he cautions that the team tried to find a taker for McRoberts’ contract last summer, and that was before he missed more than half a season with injuries. If Miami were able to pull off such a scenario, it would be in the range for players such as Serge Ibaka, Paul Millsap or the combination of Zach Randolph and a re-signed Dion Waiters.

There’s more this morning out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets have limited resources to work with as they try to improve on this year’s 36-46 record, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. With six players who have salaries topping $12MM, Charlotte is already over the salary cap for next season, leaving GM Rich Cho with little to offer prospective free agents. The team will have its mid-level exception [worth about $8.4MM] and its bi-annual exception [about $3.3MM], but neither will be enough to add a difference maker. The Hornets own both of their picks at 11 and 41, but the team’s draft record has been mixed in recent years. Trade assets are limited, with only Kemba Walker able to bring a significant return. Bonnell cites depth, defense and closing out games as areas in which Charlotte needs to improve.
  • Duke’s Amile Jefferson is among six players who will work out for the Hornets today, Bonnell relays in a separate story. He will be joined by Antonio Blakeney of LSU; Torian Graham of Arizona State; Kyle Kuzma of Utah; Derrick Walton of Michigan; and Nigel Williams-Goss of Gonzaga. Several more workouts are planned for next week.
  • Kuzma held a second pre-draft workout for the Hawks on Thursday, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Joining him at that session were Dwayne Bacon of Florida State, Nigel Hayes of Wisconsin and Nik Slavica of Croatia.

Western Notes: Warriors, Lakers, Mavs, Spurs

In the wake of the Warriors‘ Game 3 win over the Cavaliers, Cleveland may have to face the harsh reality that there will be no stopping Golden State for the next few years, writes Chris Mannix of The Vertical. As Mannix explains, there aren’t many obvious routes the Cavs can take to upgrade their roster, and the Warriors should have no trouble attracting ring-chasing veterans every year — this season, productive vets like David West and Zaza Pachulia were willing to take reduced salaries to join the Dubs.

Meanwhile, fans of rival teams may hope that the Warriors’ four core players get too expensive for the team to keep them all, but that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Klay Thompson has been the star most frequently cited as the potential victim of a Warriors cap crunch, and acknowledged to Mannix that he has thought about one day being the face of another franchise. However, he added: “It’s just winning is so much fun.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

Pacific Notes: J. Jackson, Isaac, Tatum, Thompson

The Suns potentially have a difficult decision to make when they find themselves on the clock with the fourth overall pick, writes Doug Haller of AZCentral Sports. Three talented freshman small forwards could be available: Josh Jackson, Jonathan Isaac, and Jayson Tatum. Defense and three-point shooting are likely the Suns’ two most glaring weaknesses, and one of these athletes could certainly help.

Haller writes that Jackson’s real impact could come defensively. The scribe adds that, while Tatum is nowhere near the defender that Jackson is, the Duke freshman may be the most polished scorer in the draft. As for Isaac, he can play both forward positions, with many believing that he will also be able to man the center position when his body fills out. Furthermore, the departing Seminole would contribute defensive versatility, having defended all over the floor for Florida State.

Here are some more pertinent notes from the Pacific division:

Draft Notes: Knicks, J. Jackson, Suns, Lakers

There are a number of potential player/team matches in the top 10 of this year’s draft that might make sense on paper, but should be avoided in reality, according to the staff at The Ringer. Danny Chau identifies De’Aaron Fox as a less than ideal fit for the Sixers, while Jonathan Tjarks makes the case for why the Knicks should steer clear of Dennis Smith Jr.

Other picks to be avoided, in the views of The Ringer’s NBA writers? The Mavericks and Lauri Markkanen; the Kings and Jayson Tatum; and the Magic and Jonathan Isaac.

Here are a few more draft-related items from around the basketball world:

Draft Notes: Aldridge, Robinson, McIntosh, Kuzma

The Celtics are likely to select one of the top two point guards, Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, rather than moving their pick, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com. Boston has to protect itself with a tough decision coming on whether to re-sign Isaiah Thomas in the summer of 2018 and Fultz would make the most sense, Aldridge continues. Ball would be a natural fit with the Lakers, while the Sixers will probably go with small forward Josh Jackson, though Kentucky’s Malik Monk is an intriguing alternative, Aldridge adds. A trade in which the Suns move up a spot to snag Jackson to settle their small forward issues isn’t out of the question, according to Aldridge, who goes through each team’s need on a pick-by-pick basis.

In other news involving the draft:

  • Austin Peay’s Josh Robinson will hire an agent, meaning he won’t be able to return to the university, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). The 6’2″ guard, who missed time this season after being suspended from the school’s basketball team, will look to play overseas.
  • MiKyle McIntosh is working out for the Raptors today, Goodman tweets. The Illinois State product has until Wednesday to make a final decision on entering the draft.
  • Iowa State point guard Monte Morris headed the list of prospects worked out by the Kings today, Sean Cunningham of KXTV tweets. Morris is considered second-round material by both DraftExpress and ESPN’s Chad Ford.
  • Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss and Indiana big man Thomas Bryant were among the prospects the Lakers worked out on Monday, Robert Morales of the Orange County Register reports. None of the players Los Angeles brought in are considered first-round prospects.
  • University of Utah forward Kyle Kuzma, who has already hired an agent, will work out for the Jazz on Tuesday, according to Aaron Falk and Tony Jones of the Salt Lake City Tribune. The 6’9” Kuzma, who is considered a second-round prospect, was one of the other hopefuls who worked for the Lakers on Monday.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Walker, Wizards

The Hawks‘ list of potential general manager candidates continues to grow, with Zach Klein of Channel 2 Sports in Atlanta reporting that the club is interested in speaking with Nets executive Trajan Langdon about the opening. Langdon, who currently serves as an assistant GM in Brooklyn under Sean Marks, was identified by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz earlier this year as a front office “prospect” to watch. However, league insiders told Arnovitz at the time that Langdon may still need a few seasons with the Nets before he becomes a legit candidate to run an NBA front office.

[RELATED: Latest on Hawks’ front office search]

As we wait to see if Atlanta gets the opportunity to talk to Langdon, let’s round up a few more notes and rumors out of the Southeast…

Draft Rumors: Risers/Fallers, Fox, Giles, Bradley

Power forwards Jordan Bell (Oregon) and Kyle Kuzma (Utah) are among the players who have impressed scouts and executives during five-on-five action in Chicago at this year’s combine, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider link). Kuzma’s performance was so strong that he pulled out of today’s five-on-five game, quitting while he was ahead, tweets Ford.

Conversely, Maryland’s Melo Trimble and Iowa’s Peter Jok have struggled in Chicago, with Ford suggesting that Trimble’s draft stock has been “devastated” by his combine showing.

In addition to assessing the on-court performances of some notable prospects, Ford also passed along several interesting off-the-court items. Let’s dive in and round up those tidbits, along with a couple other draft-related notes and rumors…

  • There appears to be a “growing movement” among some teams to place De’Aaron Fox ahead of Lonzo Ball on draft boards, according to Ford, who suggests that the Kentucky point guard could come off the board as high as No. 3 — or even No. 2.
  • Teams are eagerly anticipating a look at the medicals on Harry Giles, who has been plagued by knee injuries. Ford says he has spoken to multiple NBA executives who are ready to move Giles into the 5-10 range if he’s fully cleared medically. “He’s the best prospect in the entire draft if he can fully recover and stay healthy,” one NBA exec told Ford. “He’s just a freaky talent.” Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times (Twitter link) also hears that Giles is moving up draft boards.
  • Ford’s sources expect freshman center Tony Bradley to remain in the draft rather than returning to North Carolina.
  • Some NBA scouts believe Donovan Mitchell (Louisville) will end up being selected in the lottery, or just outside of it, according to Ford.
  • Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo looks like one of the best athletes in this year’s draft class, and that could be enough to make him a first-round pick if he stays in the draft, Ford writes.
  • Arizona’s Rawle Alkins said on Thursday that he’s 50-50 on whether to remain in the draft or go back to school, and will get all the feedback he can before making a final call. Adam Zagoria of FanRagSports.com has the quotes and the details.
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