In his first offseason in charge of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, Magic Johnson made a pretty shocking move by trading away former second overall pick D’Angelo Russell, along with Timofey Mozgov, to the Brooklyn Nets.
Though inconsistent and seemingly immature in his two seasons in L.A., Russell has blossomed in Brooklyn, developing into the scorer he had shown flashes of with the Lakers. Russell was even selected to his first All-Star Game this year, leading many to call the trade a fail for the Lakers overall.
The Nets on the other hand couldn’t be more excited as they look poise for their first playoff appearance since 2015. Their fans even threw some shade towards Johnson and the Lakers with chant as Russell shot a pair of free throws, via SportsCenter:
Brooklyn fans chanted "Thank you, Magic" when D'Angelo Russell was at the line 👀 pic.twitter.com/l9VNteW92Z
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 7, 2019
Russell’s talent was never in question as he was always a talented scorer, ballhandler, and passer. Many saw him as a great fit next to Lonzo Ball, whom the Lakers drafted earlier in the summer Russell was jettisoned, but Johnson and the front office felt it was time to move forward.
The Lakers didn’t come out of that deal empty-handed as the draft pick they acquired in that deal was used to select Kyle Kuzma. Additionally, the trade cleared out substantial salary cap room that the team used to sign LeBron James and still maintain another max salary slot now.
The development of Russell is something the Lakers will be hoping to see from their own young talent. It took Russell four years to get to this level, and Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Ball have all shown flashes in their careers much like Russell did early on as well.
Perhaps the Lakers did decide to move on from Russell too early, but the team still possesses a lot of young talent who can be future All-Stars as well.
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