Ahead of Thursday’s (June 22) NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets agreed to a big deal surrounding D’Angelo Russell and Brook Lopez.
According to reports, the Lakers will ship Russell and center Timofey Mozgov to Brooklyn, in exchange for Lopez and the 27th overall pick in the draft. The deal allows Los Angeles to clear cap space and position themselves for a run at least one max free agent next summer.
Russell was the second overall pick of the 2015 draft. He averaged 15.6 points and 4.8 assists this past season, but Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson decided to let go of the young talent, as they are expected to draft UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball in the draft.
Russell is set to earn $5.6 million next season, while Mozgov is entering the second year of a four-year, $64 million contract. The center ultimately didn’t fit into Coach Luke Walton’s Golden State-influenced schemes.
29-year-old Lopez has been a standout for the Nets. Last season, he averaged 20.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 blocks. He’s in the final season of his contract and will earn $22.64 million next season.
With Lopez’s expiring contract and moving Mozgov off their books, the Lakers will have around $60 million in significant cap room next summer.
Next summer, Indiana Pacers superstar Paul George will become a free agent and has indicated he would like to join the Lakers. However, the Lakers and Pacers have already had trade discussions.
LeBron James is also among the stars eligible to be a free agent next summer.