The Los Angeles Lakers just made their official splash of the Magic Johnson era Tuesday afternoon. The Lakers sent Timofey Mozgov and D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. This is huge for the Lakers on so many fronts. With Russell gone, it now opens the door for the Lakers to select Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick Thursday. With Lopez on board, the Lakers get a quality big man to pair with Julius Randle in the post.
But the Lakers may not be done.
There is still talk of a potential trade involving the Indiana Pacers for Paul George. The Pacers are reportedly seeking 2 First Rounders and a starter to acquire George. With this trade– the Lakers now have the necessary pieces. For starters– the Lakers now have the 27th, 28th picks in the first round. As for a starter they can trade, they can either give up Brandon Ingram or Jordan Clarkson.
Lopez will come to L.A. with a chip on his shoulder after playing under such heavy scrutiny and also for a team who’s in a complete rebuild mode. In all fairness, Lopez is not perfect. He’s one of, if not the worst rebounding Centers in the NBA. However, he more than makes up for it with his offensive touch. Last season, Lopez averaged 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. But it wasn’t just the post moves where Lopez stood out. In 2016 he decided to add another weapon to his arsenal. Lopez shot 35 percent from beyond the arc as he took 5 3-pointer per game.
The Lakers will need his scoring but most of all they will need Lopez to start rebounding like a player earning $22M a season.
With Lopez now onboard the question becomes– will the Lakers choose Ball with the No. 2 pick? That has to be a resounding yes. Russell has the tools to be good but Ball may already be in line to mimic Magic more that Russ. Ball, with his size, can get to the paint quicker and look to dish off to Lopez who’s one of the best in the business at close range.
One of the biggest obstacles was clearing the roster of Mozgov. While Lopez makes more than he does per year, Mozgov was in danger of starting the 2017 season on the bench. With him gone it now clears the way for REAL free agents to take a hard look at the Lakers. George is on the wish list of every NBA team but his desire to come to the Lakers has scared away a few. With Lopez rocking the Purple & Gold Paul now has more incentive to help return the Lakers to their glory years.
There is still that issuse of making the playoffs in the Western Conference with a roster of players that are young and a new pivot man who may have given up, just briefly. But they can do it. The Lakers are not done making moves and by the time you read this, Paul George may be on his way to L.A.