Timofey Mozgov

Report: Lakers trade D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov to Nets for Brook Lopez, 27th pick

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The Lakers were looking to unload the Timofey Mozgov mistake they made last summer and start to clear out cap space for a push next summer.

The Brooklyn Nets were looking to move the expiring contract of Brook Lopez — and his quality offensive big man play — for a promising young player. Say, for example, D'Angelo Russell.

Those two sides have reached an agreement, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Lakers now have the No. 2, 27, and 28 pick in the first round (28th was Houston’s they got in the Lou Williams trade). Expect them to try and use those picks in a deal to get Paul George (throwing in Julius Randle or Jordan Clarkson), something Marc Stein of ESPN noted, but I doubt that’s enough.

As noted, for the Lakers this move is about clearing the way for Lonzo Ball, and to clear cap space in 2018 to chase LeBron James and, sign/re-sign Paul George. It’s a smart play by the Magic/Pelinka front office that could have the Lakers as a contender in 201-19 if the dominos all fall, but the price is fairly high because Russell has potential.

For the Nets, they get that potential. The Lakers had questions about Russell’s work ethic and maturity (re: the Nick Young mess), but he’s just 21 and nobody who watched him questions his ability to see the court off the pick-and-roll and make plays. He just has to start doing it consistently. Coach Kenny Atkinson and the Nets may be better able to develop him, he will see heavy P&R calls with the floor spread and some shooters around him. Brooklyn has the cap space to take on bad contracts like Mozgov to get guys they want, and this is a good reclamation process.

Report: Lakers not willing to give up players/picks needed dump Mozgov, Deng contracts

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The Lakers had money to spend last year and they spent it: four-years, $64 million for Timofey Mozgov, four-year, $72 million for Luol Deng. The idea was they would contribute a little now as the young Lakers grew, be leaders in the locker room, then in a couple of years the Lakers could package the rest of those contracts in deals to get the stars they wanted.

Except it was a major overpay and miscalculation about what Mozgov and Deng could contribute. Those were two of the worst contracts given out last free agency.

The Lakers might like to get those contracts off the books, but they aren’t willing to pay the price in sweeteners yet to get the job done. That according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Well of course teams are asking for a sweetener to take on those deals. Why would they just take on those massive contracts, to help out Magic Johnson because he’s new?

At some point over the next season the Lakers will decide which players do not fit with their long-term plans as well, and then those players may be used as sweeteners in a deal to move those salaries. But the Lakers clearly are not there yet.

Rumor: Lakers will not include No. 2 pick, Brandon Ingram in Paul George deal. Why would they?

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With Paul George‘s people telling the Pacers he’s going to be a free agent next summer and wants to head to the Lakers, there is only one reason for the Lakers to get involved in a trade for him now: Fear he gets dealt to Cleveland or Miami or wherever, wins some, decides he likes it and stays.

The Lakers can be proactive and make a trade now, but they shouldn’t give up any player or pick they think has real value. Which brings us to something Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said in his podcast this week (hat tip RealGM) :

“The Lakers aren’t giving them Brandon Ingram,” added Wojnarowski. “They aren’t giving them the No. 2 pick.”

Why would they? The Lakers shouldn’t overpay for a guy that wants to come there anyway. It probably goes beyond just those two things.

The Lakers might do one young player — Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle — and the 28th overall pick in the draft (via Houston in the Lou Williams deal) to get something done. At most. L.A. would love to unload one of the bad Timofey Mozgov/Luol Deng contracts, but the Pacers are going to ask for more than one young player and one pick to take that on.

The Pacers are going to talk to every team in the league and take the best deal on the table. It’s simple for them. It seems unlikely the Lakers will have the best offer since they believe they can land him a year from now as a free agent and give up nothing.

 

Lakers? Cavaliers? Pacers only care about best offer when trading Paul George

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The Indiana Pacers are getting out of the Paul George business. Well, more accurately, he told them he’s getting out of the Pacers business in the summer of 2018, so Indiana is now hunting around looking for trade partners to get something before he walks.

Most of the speculation has focused on Cleveland going after him to pair with LeBron James, or the Lakers making a move to get him because he wants to come there as a free agent in 2018 anyway.

Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard isn’t limiting himself — he’s going to talk to 29 other teams, and the one with the best offer wins. That simple. It’s all bottom line. Pritchard doesn’t care where George wants to go, stuck in a bad situation the Pacers are gong to get the best deal they can and do it quickly.

That best deal may not come from Cleveland or Los Angeles, there may be a team that thinks with a year in their culture they can win him over the long term and are willing to pay a little more for the opportunity — although probably not as much as the Pacers are asking.

Still, let’s take a closer look at the two teams most rumored.

The Lakers have little incentive to put together a deal that gives up something of value because George’s people have already let it be known he plans to go there as a free agent next summer. Why spend now?

The one reason for the Lakers to get involved — fear that George will sign somewhere like Cleveland, like it, and decide to stay. Even with that risk, the Lakers don’t want to give up much — they could try to dump one of the bad Luol Deng/Timofey Mozgov contracts, plus throw in someone they see fitting long term (such as Julius Randle), but the Lakers don’t have picks to throw around, they don’t have a tradable first rounder until 2020.

It makes sense for Cleveland to try and get in the sweepstakes — they need an upgrade, and better play on the wings, to compete with Golden State. The Cavs are as win now as it gets and should go all in here. They may, and they have no concern about just renting George, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

The Cavs are willing to enter into trade talks for George without any assurances he will commit to a long-term deal in Cleveland, a source familiar with the Cavs’ thinking told ESPN. Cleveland is confident its championship culture and overall atmosphere could sway George to want to stay after playing out the 2017-18 season on the final year of his deal.

The bigger question for the Cavaliers: What can they give up that Indiana wants? They don’t have young players on the bench the rebuilding Pacers want, and it’s years befoe Cleveland has picks they can send out. They also are not trading away Kyrie Irving.

The name that comes up? Kevin Love. First off, this is not fair to Love who has worked hard and improved his game each year he has been in Cleveland — and he played hard and as well as could be expected in the Finals. The problem is, the Warriors are a beast, one that Love does not match up well against. The questions are, would the Cavs deal Love, and would Indy think Love and filler works for them? Trade George and the Pacers are in rebuilding mode, they would need to flip Love to get the kind of young player and picks needed to get on that path.

If another team comes with a better offer, the Pacers will take it. They are trying to make the best of a terrible situation, they don’t care where the offer comes from. They may even be a little patient, but the market for a rent-a-player is never all that high.

 

Luke Walton admits what many teams thinking: Warriors make this good time for slow rebuild

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There is an inpatient segment of Laker fandom — and just about every other fan base — that wants then to go after Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Russell Westbrook (if he becomes a free agent) and any other star they can. Do whatever it takes to become a contender again as fast as they can, it’s what they see as the Lakers’ rightful place in the universe.

The problem is the Golden State Warriors.

They have dominated these Finals, have been to the Finals three straight years, every one of their core players is younger than 30, and after they re-sign Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant this summer their core four are locked in for at least two more seasons (Klay Thompson is the next free agent, in 2019). They are the Mount Everest nobody may be able to scale for a few years.

That has up-and-coming teams in the West thinking three, four, or five years out with their rebuilds. It’s something teams don’t generally talk about publically but admit privately. Which is why it was nice to hear Lakers’ coach Luke Walton say on Bleacher Report’s “The Full 48” podcast he recommends a patient rebuild right now (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“I joke a lot. I said ‘if there’s a time to be rebuilding, this is the time to do it.’ The Warriors don’t look like they’re going anywhere for a while. They’re pretty darn good right now,” said Walton….

“Obviously there’s players in this league that if you can get, it’s really tough to say no to because the superstars in this league are good enough to make you a contender or not. It’s the difference between having a very good team with lots of role players or having a team that can actually, legitimately win an NBA championship…

“My only caution would be let’s not give up too much of our young core for one superstar because, like we just talked about before, let’s not forget that those Golden State Warriors are just a little bit north of us and it’s going to take a lot more than one superstar to dethrone them from the West. There’s that fine line in trying to get there quicker rather than developing our own guys. I think Rob (Pelinka) and Magic (Johnson) are very aware of that. They’re constantly looking at the best way to get us to be a true contender, not just on paper.”

To use an “it’s never going to happen” example, trade D'Angelo Russell and one of the Lakers’ oversized contracts (say Timofey Mozgov), draft Lonzo Ball, and where are the Lakers? They jump from 26 wins to maybe 36 (depending upon the improvement of Brandon Ingram and others), and they miss out on the playoffs by a few games (and George has shifted to essentially Pacers West). The Lakers are better drafting Ball (or whoever), developing their young players, then in the summer of 2018 — or better yet, maybe 2019 — target big free agents. Build a core and a system that works, then add to it, as Boston did (they won 41 games before adding Al Horford). Think a few years out.

Maybe by then, the Warriors will not look like quite as daunting a force.