Timofey Mozgov

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 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.

Lakers Rumors: Young, World Peace, Kobe, Mozgov

Now that the Lakers have played their final regular season game of 2016/17, the first offseason in Rob Pelinka‘s tenure as general manager is underway. As Pelinka said earlier this week to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, it will be an interesting one in Los Angeles, since there are so many uncertainties surrounding the club, starting with whether or not it will keep its top-three-protected pick.

“There are a lot of uncertainties,” Pelinka said. “Do we have our draft pick in June, or do we not? What free agents do extensions? What free agents become true free agents? What players from other teams are teams going to think about trading? There are millions and millions of combinations. It’s almost like a Rubik’s Cube. If you’re trying to solve it, there are many different combinations and turns you could make to get to the end path. You have to really study that board hard and make all the right turns to get there, but there is likely more than one way to get to the end.”

As the Lakers mull their summer options, let’s round up a few more notes on the club…

  • Although Nick Young remains undecided on his player option, he suggested today that he may prefer joining a playoff team rather than being one of the lone veterans on a young team, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. As Mark Medina of Los Angeles Daily News tweets, Young also joked that if the Lakers end up drafting Lonzo Ball, it might be too much for the team to have to deal with the “Ball family and Swaggy P talking crazy.”
  • Speaking today to reporters, including Pincus (Twitter link), Metta World Peace said president of basketball operations Magic Johnson told him the Lakers probably won’t re-sign him this summer. World Peace said earlier this week that he hopes to play two more professional seasons, but he sounded less certain today about his plans going forward.
  • After initially taking an inside look last month at the legal drama surrounding Jeanie Buss and her family, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com digs back into the story and updates her initial report with new information and quotes from Buss. Shelburne’s newest story on Lakers ownership includes a handful of interesting new tidbits, including one on how Jim Buss tried to offer Kobe Bryant shares in the franchise last year without realizing that the family trust didn’t allow for such a move.
  • After being rested for several weeks to end the season, Timofey Mozgov isn’t yet sure what his role will look like next year, but he’s hopeful that he’ll start 2017/18 as L.A.’s starting center, per Medina.

Timofey Mozgov ‘Shut Down’ By Lakers

Despite being healthy, Lakers center Timofey Mozgov may not play again this season, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. A source tells Spears that Mozgov has been “shut down” so the team can take a closer look at its younger players.

Signing the 30-year-old was the first major move of the offseason for the Lakers, who gave him a four-year, $64MM contract. It was considered a large amount for someone who had rarely been more than a part-time starter since entering the league in 2010.

If Mozgov’s first season is done in L.A., he finishes it with averages of 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds in 54 games. He has only played twice since February 6th, and rookie Ivica Zubac appears to have taken his place in the starting lineup.

Mozgov still has three seasons and $48MM left on his contract. The Lakers’ other significant free agent signing of last summer, Luol Deng, has three years and $54MM remaining. The 31-year-old small forward hasn’t played since February 28th as the Lakers’ new regime puts an emphasis on youth.

In addition to developing its young players, L.A. has an incentive to tank as its pick will go to the Sixers if it lands outside the top three. The Lakers are currently second in our Reverse Standings.

Lakers Notes: Deadline, Magic Johnson, Ingram

Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times is convinced Magic Johnson – recently hired as the Lakers‘ basketball and business advisor – will be calling the shots in the team’s front office. Johnson’s “advisor” title was merely an interim tag, Plaschke speculates, until this coming spring, when Jeanie Buss will rebuild the team’s front office around him.

“Johnson would call the shots that are now called by Jim Buss,” Plaschke writes. “He would be the voice that is currently Mitch Kupchak’s. He would essentially fill the role, both spiritually and practically, that Jerry Buss once entrusted to Jerry West.”

More from the Lakers…

  • Amongst four other questions leading up to the trade deadline, Dan Woike of the L.A. Times wondered “who is doing what?” in the Lakers’ front office. Woike notes that Johnson’s role as team advisor has only made the team’s front office situation murkier. While the team previously voiced a desire to build through the draft and attract a big name free agent over the offseason, Woike asks whether Johnson will persuade the team to trade for a star player. The Lakers could build assets by trading Lou Williams or Nick Young, Woike observes, while preserving their top-three pick in the upcoming draft.
  • Mark Heisler of the L.A. Daily News notes that the Nets, Suns, and Magic are all capable of finishing with worse records than the Lakers, putting their top-three draft pick in jeopardy. While the focus will be on trading Williams or Young, the team will also look to off-load Timofey Mozgov or Luol Deng, if possible.
  • Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead complimented the Lakers’ decision to avoid trading Brandon Ingram in a package for DeMarcus Cousins. Ingram has shown as a 19-year-old prospect, McIntyre argues, while Cousins wouldn’t have made the Lakers a contender this year or next. “Not to mention if the Lakers finish outside the Top 3, they’ll lose their 1st round pick. It would have been a disastrous move that would have set the franchise back even further.”
  • Mark Medina of the O.C. Register emphasized the importance of Luke Walton “playing the kids” in the second half. Medina recommended the team keep Deng and Mozgov on the bench as much as possible, and (assuming they aren’t traded) do the same with Young and Williams. While keeping their draft pick should be L.A.’s top concern, Medina mentioned the importance of improving defensively.

And-Ones: Lakers, Mozgov, Okafor, Wojnarowski

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak didn’t want Timofey Mozgov to be tempted by other offers and that contributed to the team handing him a four-year, $64MM deal, a source tells Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN.com. Shelbourne adds that Luol Deng, who signed a four-year, $72MM deal with Los Angeles this past offseason, had other offers for his services, but no team gave him more than a three-year deal. Both Mozgov and Deng were recently relegated to the bench.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Lakers would need to attach a young prospect, such as Ivica Zubac or Larry Nance Jr., to Deng or Mozgov if they want to move one of their free agent additions, Shelbourne writes in the same piece. She adds that the contracts of Deng and Mozgov are not problematic for Los Angeles right now, but they will be soon, as Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell will be eligible for extensions over the next couple offseasons.
  • Jahlil Okafor, who we profiled as a trade candidate, is making the most of his increased minutes, John Reid of The Time-Picayune writes. Okafor was the subject of trade rumors earlier in the week with the Pelicans being the latest team to show interest in him.
  • The Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s D-League affiliate, have acquired center Prince Ibeh and waived forward Lazar Hayward, according to a team press release.
  • Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical is close to joining ESPN, multiple sources tell Kevin Draper of Deadspin.

Pacific Notes: Green, West, Randle

Warriors teammates Kevin Durant and Draymond Green were once again seen in a verbal altercation Saturday night. According to Chris Haynes of ESPN, it was all part of a master plan by Green.

Nothing in general” led to the altercation, the Warriors forward said Tuesday. “It was actually a tactic. But that’s for us to know and for everyone else to figure out.

Green, Hayes writes, was trying to use reverse psychology to motivate his struggling teammate and supposedly followed it up by winking and smiling at some of the Warriors coaching staff.

Earlier this month Green and Durant were seen arguing with one another on the court when the Warriors lost to the Grizzlies.

Despite their interesting relationship, Green and Durant are said to have watched the Super Bowl together the day after the incident, suggesting that the altercation caused no hard feelings. With a 43-8 record, the Warriors have earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to locker room chemistry.

There are more headlines out of the Pacific Division today:

  • The Warriors may need to compete with the Lakers if they want to convince 78-year-old executive Jerry West to stay with the team after his contract expires in July, writes Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News.
  • Veteran forward P.J. Tucker knows how to get the most out of his younger teammates and his tough-love approach has been put in effect with current Suns rookies Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender, writes Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic.
  • The Lakers handed out significant contracts to veterans Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng over the offseason but lately the tandem has been coming off the bench, notes Baxter Holmes of ESPN. “I’m not going to say it’s permanent, but we’re going to see how it goes,” head coach Luke Walton said, citing the need to develop young players as the reason for the decision.
  • Limited to just five minutes over the previous four games, Julius Randle has recovered from pneumonia and and returned to the lineup for the Lakers on Monday. The power forward is expected to be at full strength heading forward, writes Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.
  • There are plenty of assets on the Suns roster, writes Kevin O’Conner of the Ringer. The scribe breaks down what could be next for Phoenix, including franchise cornerstone Devin Booker and “good-but-not-great” point guard Eric Bledsoe.

Central Notes: Gibson, Mozgov, Dellavedova

Taj Gibson is in the final year of his contract with the Bulls, which means there’s a good chance he’ll be involved in trade rumors in the coming weeks. However, having been the subject of trade speculation in the past, Gibson knows how to deal with it, and isn’t concerned about it, as Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun details.

“I’m just numb to (the talk) because I get good feedback from my agent all the time, so I’m never really worried about what’s going on,” Gibson said on Saturday before the Bulls faced the Raptors. “Normally when you are in trade rumors, it means the other team wants you too, so it’s like half and half. It’s part of our business.”

Here’s more from out of the NBA’s Central division:

  • Few players made out better on the free agent market in 2016 than Timofey Mozgov, who parlayed a championship win with the Cavaliers into a four-year, $64MM deal from the Lakers. However, as Matt Medley of NEO Sports Insiders relays, Mozgov admits in a conversation with 60smol.com that he misses Cleveland.
  • Another former Cav, Matthew Dellavedova, has been sidelined for the last five games due to a hamstring injury, but the Australian guard has been cleared to return to the court for the Bucks, according to an AAP report (link via ESPN.com).
  • Monta Ellis got off to a slow start for the Pacers this season and was viewed as a trade candidate, but you could make the case that he has been a crucial part of the team’s recent turnaround, says Mark Montieth of Pacers.com. As Monteith writes, Ellis would prefer to start, but he has bought into his new role — since the veteran guard returned from a groin injury and began coming off the bench, Indiana is 5-1.
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