It has been an exciting offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers as the team was able to come away with the 2017 NBA Summer League championship. Behind Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers looked every bit of the up-and-down team that President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka had in mind when building the roster.
While the Lakers are not expected to make the playoffs for the 2017-18 NBA season, they have begun to clear their cap space in order to make room for two max superstars next summer. In their first major move, Johnson and Pelinka decided to trade D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets to create space and according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, there were plenty of suitors for Russell:
Magic Johnson was asked if it was hard to move on after trading D’Angelo Russell. “I am not one of them dudes,” the Lakers president of basketball operations replied. “When I say bye, that’s it. I keep moving. I can’t get caught in emotions and all that. That is not who I am. We moved and we kept moving. After that trade we went on to the next thing.” Johnson added, “Like five teams called for D’Angelo [so] we knew that we could move D’Angelo for one of the pieces that we were looking for. So we decided on Brooklyn, they got a great player in D’Angelo and we got what we wanted.”
Russell, the former second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, seemed to be the sweetener required to dump Mozgov’s contract and it is not surprising to hear that several teams expressed interest in acquiring the talented guard. He had an inconsistent sophomore campaign but still showed promise as a combo guard who could pass and space the floor, a worthy addition to a talent-deprived Nets team.
The Lakers have made it no secret they are looking to make room for superstars and the Russell trade may only be the first domino that falls in the coming months. While Ball’s encouraging Summer League showing has the storied franchise, there are still moves to be made if the front office wants to successfully execute their plan of attracting stars like Lebron James and Paul George.