“Trying” is the most important word in the title, because I’m not a fan of this deal. At all. I’m actually low on D-Lo compared to most people, too. I see him potentially as a 17/5/3/44% guy, which is totally reasonable given his output so far. But some people are even higher. Many see superstar potential for the 21-year old.
And if there was somebody as high on Russell as anyone, it had to be Magic Johnson. Or so we thought. Though it is possible that he’s still high on him, if he were as high on him as we thought he was, or as he said he was, Russell would’ve been a building block around Paul George. Which brings me to my next point.
Laker Nation: I’m looking forward to being a mentor to D’Angelo Russell on and off the court.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) May 2, 2016
The only way to defend this trade is to assume that the Paul George rumors are true. That he’s adamant on signing with the Lake Show next offseason. Since Russell is also slated to be a free agent next offseason, and he’ll likely demand max dollar, (Chandler Parsons got a max deal, so D-Lo will too) if the Lakers want to keep him, they may have to sacrifice George. Not worth it if you ask me.
That part of the deal’s excusable if they’re sure they’re getting PG-13. But given the talent of Russell, they should’ve gotten way more in return, regardless of circumstances.
Although they did dump the horrendous Mozgov contract in the process, they only got Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in return. Now, if Moz hadn’t been included, I’d expect the return would’ve been much more substantial, but still, D-Lo is 21!
I know per 36 minute stats can get annoying, but get a load of Russell’s: 20/6/5/41%. The shooting percentage could use some work, but at 21, those numbers look an awful lot like those of 21-year old Kobe.
The return just doesn’t stack up to his talent. Unless LA strikes gold with the 27th pick, the player they select will likely be nothing more than a lightly-used role player, as almost all late first-rounders wind up being. And if they thought they solved their center problem, they’d be wrong. Although they definitely improved it. Brook Lopez was a 20 PPG scorer as a Net, but that’s the thing. “As a Net.” The worst team in the NBA, where nobody besides him could put the ball through the hoop.
And it only gets worse. The 7-footer averaged 5 rebounds per game in over 30 minutes a night. You heard that correctly. 6’1” Patrick Beverley averaged more rebounds in the same amount of minutes.
So trading D-Lo is defensible if the Lakers’ front office knows for a fact that they’re getting Paul George. What’s not defensible, however, is the return value, Paul George or not.