The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off their first blockbuster deal under president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka Tuesday, it just wasn’t the one everyone expected.
D’Angelo Russell is on his way to the Brooklyn Nets alongside Timofey Mozgov, in exchange for the No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and Brook Lopez in an unexpected #WojBomb of a trade. The Lakers reportedly made the move in order to clear enough cap space to sign players like LeBron James next summer, but did they make the best deal possible? Our writers discuss.
Did the Lakers make a mistake in trading D'Angelo Russell? Why or why not?
Oh my God. I don't know if I can do this right now.
The Lakers made a huge mistake. A horrible mistake. A very big, very bad, awful, no-good mistake. Russell is going to be really good and they seemed determined to get rid of him - I'm not sure why, and I don't like it. This makes the Mozgov deal look even worse, and I thought that was impossible at this point. What a trade for the Nets, though.
The Lakers may have made a mistake that they never needed to make by trading Russell. There was absolutely no immediate pressing need to trade him, and barring a follow-up trade for Paul George, there's very little that can cover the ground they just lost in my eyes as a front office.
All the Lakers had to do was wait for George to come as a free agent, and now they created this pressing need with cap space that almost needs to be filled by two superstars, otherwise they'll look just as foolish as they have in the past several years while free agents took a pass on them.
Sure, they might have a better chance now with more to offer players and Magic Johnson's sparkling smile, but they've now cornered themselves into needing star players to fill a void they created for themselves. For some reason.
Yes, absolutely. The front office just basically validated our greatest fears by trading away a major component of their rebuild for a somewhat big name in Brook Lopez to create salary cap space to continue chasing superstars with very little to sell them on.
Obviously the Mozgov deal had to be shed at some point, but it could have waited until next summer when teams would only be taking on two years of the deal. Had LeBron James elected to sign with the Lakers and they needed to shed those contracts to make it happen, maybe some East teams would have done it just to get him out of their conference. Who knows?
The Lakers just gave up a 21-year-old that was their best player for one year of Lopez and a salary dump. Awful.
In this moment it certainly feels that way. If the goal was to shed Mozzy and the Lakers figured attaching Russell was the only way to make that happen, I'm not sure why this exact deal had to happen at this exact time.
It's hard to believe Russell's play in the first half of the upcoming season could possibly depress his value lower than what the Lakers just agreed to. Giving up on your #2 overall pick less than two calendar years into his career with your eye on purely speculative and hypothetical free agent scenarios a year from now is... whoa daddy. Just... whoa.
I'm just stunned. Flummoxed. Disconcerted. Flabbergasted. Peering over the edge of a ravine of Stephen A. Smith aphorisms and thinking, screw it, I might jump.
Do you think the Lakers have any actual chance to sign LeBron James with this cap space?
I guess there's always a chance, but getting LeBron seems like a pipe dream. With this deal the Lakers are going back to the strategy of hoping the stars align, and somehow I imagine that will continue to not work out for them.
The Lakers certainly have a chance to sign LeBron, but it's hard to understand why they felt it was necessary to trade Russell for cap space now instead of giving it a few months to see how he's developed and how he fits alongside the No. 2 pick. That chance for LeBron is probably low, far too low to give up on Russell for this ahead of schedule.
No, not unless he just badly wants to play in the city of Los Angeles. Even if the Lakers acquire Paul George for relatively low value, how good will the Lakers be next year? At best, they are a fringe playoff team. Why would James leave his hometown and a title contender that can roll through the Eastern Conference to the Finals every year for that? Hopefully they have one hell of a pitch lined up, because it appears the new regime learned nothing from the last one.
I mean, probably not, but also...I guess so? Either way, with a year to go until they even have the chance to do so, clearing the deck now by jettisoning a valuable asset just seems wrongheaded. If next June rolls around and you're getting strong signals from LeBron's camp that he wants to come to LA, alright, THEN feel free to trade anything not nailed down. Doing so this far out, unless there is another domino soon to fall that we don't yet know about, reeks of desperation and a major lack of self-awareness. I've heard the "well when the Lakers have Paul George and LeBron James on their team this move might not look so bad" viewpoint, but honestly, even if that moonshot of a reality comes to be, I doubt this was the only and best way to make it happen.
Did the Lakers make a mistake? Vote, and let us know your full thoughts in the comments.
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Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our episode on the trade below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.