The second big trade domino has fallen ahead of Thursday’s NBA draft. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Los Angeles Lakers will send point guard D’Angelo Russell and NBA Finals hero Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the draft.
The Lakers now have three first-round picks in the draft (2, 27, 28), and they could package their later picks in an attempt to nab another top-ten pick, which they are reportedly trying to do. This all but guarantees that they will also select Lonzo Ball with the second pick on Thursday and go forward with him as their point guard of the future. Magic Johnson may have cleared the decks for Ball, but the Lakers’ already horrible defense will not get better next year with Lopez in the post. This is, as Woj notes, clearly some sort of transitionary move aimed at landing a big-time free agent.
As for Brooklyn, this is a phenomenal return for a player that’s struggled with injuries and see his trade value decline as the game has sped up and spread out. They asked for two first-rounders around the trade deadline, but they were highly unlikely to pick a player as promising as Russell with the 27th pick. Mozgov’s albatross of a salary also isn’t that severe of a problem for the Nets, who have plenty of cap space to absorb it.
Update (6:35 p.m. EDT): It seems as if L.A. was pretty set on shipping out Russell for whatever they could get.