It’s a hypothetical suggestion, Adrian Wojnarowski admits, but maybe one the Lakers and Nets should consider.
Talking about the Lakers need, either now or next year, to dump salaries, Woj offered the following in a podcast on “The Vertical” podcast (Starting at about the 12 minute mark.)
“So, hypothetically, Brooklyn says, ‘we’ll take on (Timofey) Mozgov or we’ll take on (Luol) Deng but you’re sending us D’Angelo Russell or you’re sending us your first round pick.’
“There is no other way the Lakers are getting Deng or Mozgov off the cap,” he added, noting that without that, L.A. won’t have enough to take on Paul George’s contract in a trade this summer or LeBron James in free agency next. Building a super team is hard.
George has told the Pacers that he will not re-sign in Indiana next summer and reportedly prefers the Lakers, although new GM Kevin Pritchard isn’t under any obligation to send him to the City of Angels.
Woj was careful not to suggest that he has any inside information, but he thinks it would be wise for Brooklyn to go the salary dump route at this point.
“Brooklyn is going to be in position,” he said, reiterating what he argued a couple of weeks ago. “Utah did a few years ago when they were building. Philadelphia obviously did it when Sam Hinkie was early in their rebuild.”
But later, Woj tweeted out that things are more than hypothetical, BUT the Lakers aren’t yet interested.
For now, LA resisting salary dumps on Mozgov or Deng needed to clear future space. Teams trying to snag pick/young player to absorb deals.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 20, 2017
It is interesting, however, that Woj chose Russell as his example of what the Lakers could offer the Nets. One reason is that the Lakers don’t have a lot of picks to use in a dump. The other is that the No. 2 overall pick, while still only 21, has been inconsistent. Kevin Ding, writing for Bleacher Report, noted how the Laker organization is not all that enamored of him and Julius Randle.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton entered the season asking Russell to be less of a know-it-all and more of a leader for the group, while he hoped Randle would emulate Draymond Green in using every perceived slight as motivation. Though both players improved their games, neither advanced as far as Walton had hoped. Russell was inconsistent with his professionalism, and Randle often lost messages given to him if they were delivered harshly.
Still, the 6’5” point guard has put up more than respectable numbers in his first two years (of a guaranteed four). He’s averaged 14.3 points and 4.0 assists while shooting 35 percent from deep. On March 19, he scored a career-high 40 points in a 125–120 loss to Cleveland.
Would the Nets play Mozgov or Deng through the remaining three years of guaranteed money: Mozgov at $48 milliion, Deng at $54 million? Stretching them sounds good, but a buyout for either would be on the books through 2024 ... and the Nets are already on the hook for Deron Willliams for another three seasons.
Then, there’s the question of having Russell and Jeremy Lin team up in a Nets backcourt. Could they co-exist. But, hey as Woj said, it’s hypothetical.