The Nets took another took another step towards respectability by signing off on the one trade they had to make sooner or later.
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn’s franchise center, is heading back to his native California to continue his NBA career as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nets will get back D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov in return for Lopez and the 27th pick in this week’s NBA Draft.
Russell’s departure from the Lakers most likely serves as the prelude to their drafting of UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball. There simply wouldn’t have been enough basketball to go around with Ball in the plans for new Lakers president of operations Magic Johnson. The more obvious reason is Russell didn’t develop into the star the Lakers were hoping they’d get.
The good news for Russell is that the Nets are in an ideal position to help him find his place in the NBA. He may not be the franchise player the Lakers were hoping for, but there’s enough talent there for Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson to use his player development skills to tap into that unlocked potential which never came out to play under the bright lights of Staples Center in Hollywood.
Speaking of renovations — Mozgov, and what’s left of the $64 million contract the Lakers blindly gave him last summer, should get an opportunity to earn that money in Brooklyn.
The winner in all of this, and deservedly so, is the 29-year old Lopez. He’s been at the center of trade rumors throughout his time in a Nets uniform. With the team in the midst of a major rebuild it seemed inevitable Lopez, and his expiring contract, would eventually get moved.
That time finally came, and it’s the right move at the right time for everyone involved.
The Nets, losers of 62 games last season, are not very good. They watched the Celtics win big with the lottery pick losing 62 games will get an NBA team. Then had to keep a positive outlook while Boston played hot potato with their pick before eventually flipping it over to the Philadelphia 76ers. A year from now, the Nets will find themselves in a similar position.
All of this was a result of arguably the worst trade in the history of sports. You remember the trade, right? Sure you do.
The trade which included the Nets getting an aging Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for a plethora of draft picks which sabotaged any chance of rebuilding through the lottery. That trade which ultimately led to Deron Williams and Joe Johnson finding employment elsewhere after getting their contracts bought out. The one which eventually led to the firing of Avery Johnson, Lionel Hollins, and Billy Knight.
Yes, that trade.
The Nets are still paying the price for that trade, it’s the gift which keeps on giving.
Well, it finally was Lopez’s turn to receive his gift. The Lakers are also a team looking to take the necessary steps to get back to respectability. Drafting Ball and perhaps pairing him with one or two more young athletic wing players to run the fast break will be cool, watching him potentially form a 1-2 punch with the offensively-gifted, Lopez is just smart business.
It was smart business for the Nets too.