It appears we have our first trade of the offseason.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have sending D'Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn in exchange for Brook Lopez and the No. 27 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft.
How did each team fare in this move?
GRADE THE TRADE
Los Angeles Lakers
LAKERS GET: Brook Lopez, No. 27 pick in 2017 draft
To get Lopez, L.A. gives up Russell, the talented No. 2 overall pick in 2015 who has plenty of upside. They get a veteran on an expiring contract along with a late first-round pick. That looks like bad value, but it actually helps the Lakers in three ways:
First, it's most likely they take Lonzo Ball at No. 2 overall, and there were questions about whether Russell and Ball could operate together. Russell has had well-chronicled maturity issues, and this settles that.
Second, Lopez is an All-Star-caliber center. He's got great touch and a variety of post moves, is a gifted passer and has improved as a defender and rebounder. He comes with injury concerns, but could really help the Lakers.
Third, and the big deal here, is the Mozgov part of this trade. The Lakers are set to have a reported $30 million in cap space next summer, and are a few more moves away from room for two -- TWO -- max contracts.
If LAL can find a home for Clarkson, not bring back Randle and stretch Deng, cap space in 18-19 would be $64m. Good enough for 2 max.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) June 20, 2017
Paul George, a free agent after next season, is the obvious name because he's made it known the Lakers are his preference. L.A. reportedly is already in trade conversations to acquire him immediately. From there, Russell Westbrook has an early termination option for next season. What if reports of LeBron James wanting to go to L.A. are legit? Could the Lakers find a way to make room for three stars?
NETS GET: D'Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov
Brooklyn needed to trade Lopez for seven years, and it has nothing to do with how good he is. He's great and should be excellent for the Lakers, if healthy. But they've needed a new direction, and this clears him off the books before his contract expires and they get nothing in return. They take on Mozgov's albatross of a contract, but the Nets have almost infinite cap space and no free-agent prospects. They can absorb Mozgov and still have $30 million remaining in space.
Essentially, the Nets get Russell for Lopez and the 27th pick. That's value because Russell is a supremely talented guard. His maturity issues are real. When he clashed with Byron Scott it was seen as a problem with an old-school coach, but he still had issues while playing for Luke Walton. In Brooklyn, he's the star. He'll learn next to Jeremy Lin, and may be the face of the franchise. He's worth the gamble, because if he outgrows his issues, Russell could be a game-changing perimeter weapon.
The Nets traded their last remaining old star for a new one, didn't hurt their future cap sheet (and Mozgov expires in three years, when they'll be ready to make moves) and gave up a low-value pick. GM Sean Marks continues to make great moves and Kenny Atkinson gets a young guard to mold into Brooklyn's first real star of their rebuild.