D’Angelo Russell’s time with the Los Angeles Lakers has come to an end.
On Tuesday evening, the Lakers agreed to deal Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in this Thursday’s NBA Draft, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
The trade came out of no where and shocked both fans and reporters alike.
Russell, 21, was selected by the Lakers with the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, and his tenure in L.A. was not often a smooth one, with off the court matters causing trouble in the locker room, along with apparent immaturity issues.
There have also been questions from some regarding Russell’s health, as well as his lack of athleticism and his struggles so far on the defensive end.
Still, the 6’5″ guard put up solid averages of 14.3 points, 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 28.5 minutes per game during his two seasons with the purple and gold, and many fans felt like he was beginning to come into his own.
However, with the Lakers owning the second overall pick in this Thursday’s draft and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball waiting in the wings, it seems Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka wanted to clear the way at the point guard position and move on from Russell as this new era of Lakers basketball begins.
The move enabled the Lakers to free themselves from Mozgov’s hefty contract that was created by Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss less than 12 months ago, while also acquiring an All-Star center in Lopez, who is on an expiring deal and will give the Lakers greater flexibility moving forward.
The 27th pick included in the deal may also come in useful while trying to pursue a Paul George trade with the Indiana Pacers in the coming days.
Whatever way you look at it, though, this is a bold move by Johnson and Pelinka as they begin to shape the roster – that they inherited – to their liking.
The Lakers still have a bunch of assets and are in pretty good shape even after trading away their second overall pick from two years ago, but rest assured, if Russell becomes a perennial All-Star down the road then this deal will be looked upon as one of the biggest mistakes in Lakers history.
Let’s hope that’s not the case.