The NBA offseason is far more interesting than the season itself. On Tuesday alone, rumors abounded and two major trades went down. The trades themselves weren’t terribly exciting, but the implications of each can have a major ripple effect on the rest of the league. To begin, let’s recap the Lakers and the Nets trade.
Lakers are trading Tim Mozgov and D’Angelo Russell to Nets for Brook Lopez and 27th pick Thursday, sources say.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 20, 2017
This picture sums up the immediate reaction of most people:
Let’s look at this trade from both sides. For the Lakers, this deal clears up cap space to make a run at Paul George and LeBron James next summer. It clears Mozgof’s mistake of a contract from the books, which is a huge benefit. They did have to give up D’Angelo Russell, but after his incident with Nick Young in 2016, it’s possible that Russell was too much of a locker room headache.
While Brook Lopez comes off the books next offseason, he does have a history of lower leg injuries. Even minor injuries will add up, and it’s not hard to envision a scenario where Lopez doesn’t play a ton of games in LA. While this deal frees up LA to chase marquee free agents next offseason, it made their current team just a tad worse.
For the Nets, the organization has to be happy getting D’Angelo Russell. The former No. 2 pick in the draft is an ascending player on a manageable contract. While he does have his share of gaffes, he possesses upside that no one else on the Nets roster has. In taking on Mozgof’s contract, the Nets get an average big man with no skills that set him apart. Going from Lopez to Mozgof is a significant downgrade, and it remains to be seen if Russell can help close the gap to make this trade more even.
If I had to describe this trade in one sentence, it would be:
the rare deal in which both teams somehow get worse
— Jake Tidwell (@jaketidwell97) June 20, 2017
Later in the evening, the Hawks and the Hornets came through with an entirely unexpected deal:
Sources: Charlotte is sending Miles Plumlee, Marco Belenelli and 41st pick to Atlanta for Dwight Howard and 31st pick.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 21, 2017
This is nothing more than a salary dump for the Hawks. This begs the question, how badly did they want to get rid of Dwight Howard? Was he becoming a problem in the locker room? Frankly, the Hawks probably realized that they have no use for a center like Howard in the modern NBA.
A center that plays primarily back-to-the-basket and no longer has the athleticism or the desire to be an elite rebounder doesn’t fit today’s league. This shows just how quickly the NBA has changed, even just over the past few years.
2013: We should spend millions of $ on billboards to keep Dwight Howard on our team
2017: Please take him we will even acquire your Plumlee
— Sherwob Holmes🕵🏼 (@World_Wide_Wob) June 21, 2017
From the Hornets’ perspective, this is really just a weird deal. They get to move their second round pick up ten spots, which is nice. They did get rid of two bench players in Plumlee and Belinelli, but neither of them particularly moved the needle. Taking a risk on Howard, or even just playing him as a reserve, is worth more than the two of them combined.
Overall, there weren’t really any major winners or losers in today’s trades. However, the rumor mill keeps flying. Just today we’ve gone from “Jimmy Butler is demanding a trade to the Cavs” to “The (insert 29 other team names) are in talks with the Pacers for Paul George” to “The Knicks are shopping Kristaps Porzingis.” And all of those rumors started flying before noon. Since then we’ve learned that “Butler wants to play in Chicago the rest of his career” and that Phil Jackson at least isn’t actively trying to make the worst mistake possible as a general manager. However, if these trades show us anything, it’s that we are in for a wild ride leading up to the draft Thursday night.