Last week, the Los Angeles Lakers made a move that no one saw coming. Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka pulled the trigger on a trade to send D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and a draft pick which turned out to be Kyle Kuzma.
The deal which has created cap space moving forward upgraded the center position and has given the Lakers another promising young player in Kuzma was met with mixed reviews. Although getting rid of Mozgov’s contract made a lot of sense, some wondered why D’Angelo was involved in the deal.
Johnson recently talked about the Russell trade and claimed he needed a leader which the Ohio State product apparently wasn’t in his eyes. Magic talked about the trade once again on Thursday with Spectrum SportsNet and elaborated a bit more on why the Lakers made the deal:
“It’s fine. Part of the business. We’re happy. Part of the business, and also Brooklyn got really good players, especially D’Angelo [Russell]. He’s a special talent. We know one thing that D’Angelo can do and that’s score that basketball.”
“When I took over, the way I wanted to build a team, I didn’t want that. I needed a guy that could get everybody involved and look pass-first. It’s nothing against D’Angelo or nothing against Timofey [Mozgov], but we had to move in a different direction. It’s going to work out great for Brooklyn because they got two starters, basically. They can build around an incredible talent in D’Angelo Russell, and we can do the same thing here with our incredible young rookie in Lonzo Ball.”
Ultimately, this trade could work out for both teams. The Lakers may have found a solid center in Lopez as well as the cap space to sign Paul George next summer and a potentially great two-way player in Kuzma. The Nets, on the other hand, could have a budding star in Russell as well as formidable center in Mozgov who can both be starters right out of the gate next season.
The problem is, if Russell turns out to be a perennial All-Star and a franchise-caliber player and the Lakers new additions don’t work out, it won’t look good on Magic. A bold move to say the least, but it comes with risk if things don’t pan out long-term.