Lakers are trading Tim Mozgov and D’Angelo Russell to Nets for Brook Lopez and 27th pick Thursday, sources say.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 20, 2017
This move is typical of Sean Marks’ plan for the Nets, as he acquired D’Angelo Russell just two years after he went #2 overall in return for taking on some future salary. The Lakers managed to grab another first-round pick in a deep draft, in addition to clearing out space for future free agents (particularly Paul George).
While Nets fans will miss Brook Lopez, they at least get to watch Brook return to his hometown. More importantly, Brooklyn acquired a young asset in D’Angelo Russell at the nadir of his value. Although losing their all-time leading scorer is an unfortunate cost of doing business, the Nets have built a back court with Russell alongside of Jeremy Lin that will be good right away and even better in the near future.
So Long, Brook Lopez
One piece of the Brook-Lin tandem moved on with his NBA career on Tuesday night. Brook Lopez has been the literal and figurative centerpiece of the Nets roster for many years. Lopez endured the misery of the 12-70 season. He made an All-Star appearance in 2012-13 while starring alongside Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. He sat out most of the 2013-14 season as foot injuries prevented him from playing with the Brooklyn super team.
The 2016-17 season was another fun iteration of Lopez’s career in Brooklyn. Brook added a three-point shot to his repertoire out of basically nowhere, and shot a solid percentage from deep on a healthy number of attempts before a shooting slump late in the season.
There were clearly question marks surrounding Brook’s game. His complete inability to rebound was always an issue up front. Additionally, he struggled to guard the pick and roll in a league trending more and more towards spread pick and roll offenses.
However, Lopez was an efficient post-up scorer who never complained and always seemed to be in good spirits. He was a huge part of Brooklyn’s success during the good times, kept the team somewhat afloat during the bad times, and ended his Nets career as the all-time leading scorer in franchise history. Sean Marks got incredible value from Lopez, but the gentle giant will be missed next season.
A New Hope
While losing Brook Lopez was a sad cost of doing business (as was the 27th overall pick), Nets fans should be ecstatic about acquiring D’Angelo Russell. Although he entered the league during the 2015 draft as the #2 pick, Russell is still only 21 years old. Furthermore, his smooth scoring game and solid size will help him fit into a back court with Jeremy Lin that will be one of the league’s most dynamic scoring guard pairings from Day One.
D’Angelo Russell can be forgiven for going mostly under-the-radar on the basketball court. No matter how successful his first two season were, Russell would look bad as the pick that followed a generational talent in Karl-Anthony Towns.