The Los Angeles Lakers made the decision to part ways with point guard D’Angelo Russell, sending him to the Brooklyn Nets in a move that caught everyone by surprise.
After being selected with the second overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, Russell was believed to be a big part of the team’s efforts to rebuild. Even as the Lakers were primed to select Lonzo Ball in this summer’s draft, the prevailing thought was that Russell would slide to shooting guard and play alongside Ball.
Instead, Los Angeles sent Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the draft, which was used to select Kyle Kuzma. Part of the motivation for the deal was that it allowed the Lakers to shed Mozgov’s contract and get closer to having enough cap space to sign a pair of stars next summer.
From the Nets side of things, they see Russell as a player that will do big things for them next season, and Mozgov agrees, via Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily:
“He’s going to score a lot,” Mozgov replied when asked about expectations for D’Angelo Russell. “He’s going to shoot three’ a lot because he’s a really, really good shooter. He’s really talented and I hope he’s going to feed me,” Mozgov said as he starts to chuckle.
With Lopez and his 20.5 points per game gone the Nets will have to turn to someone else to cover the scoring burden. It would appear that will likely be Russell, although Jeremy Lin can also fill it up when he’s healthy.
For the Lakers, seeing Russell potentially succeed elsewhere may be a bit uncomfortable, but if they are indeed able to land a pair of stars next summer like LeBron James and Paul George than the deal will be worth it.