Get this. I decide to go to the gym from 6-9 tonight. I haven’t worked out yet today, and even though I didn’t plan it, I’m out of school, have most of my final mock draft finished, and really have nothing to do. I might as well go out. Well, sure enough I come home and I immediately find out that THE ENTIRE NBA HAS BEEN BLOWING UP EVER SINCE I LEFT. The very first thing that I read on my phone is that the Lakers have traded D’Angelo Russell, along with a Mozgov’ contract tax, to the Brooklyn Nets for undervalued center Brook Lopez and the 27th overall draft pick. And not only that, the 2nd thing I read is that the Hawks have rid themselves of the Dwight-bola virus, trading the virus and the 31st overall pick to the Hornets for Miles Plumlee, Marco Bellenelli, and the 41st pick. Wow, and I thought my Sixers were the only ones brave enough to create basketball fireworks. Now these are the only 2 official things, but there are several, and I mean SEVERAL gargantuan rumors spreading throughout the league and social media. But first, I’ll cover the two things that have happened so far.
1. Brook Lopez and D’Angelo Russell Trade As a fan of Ohio State and the Sixers, I was very excited and sure that Philly was about to land D’Angelo at number 3. Unfortunately, the Lakers shocked everybody and took him at number 2, leaving the Sixers the disease that is Jahlil Okafor. But for as much as I loved him and wanted him to be successful, D’Angelo has been a disappointment. Sure, he’s had an occasional high scoring night, beautiful pass, or “ice-in-his-veins” buzzer beater, but he really hasn’t been the electrifying scorer and play maker that he was hyped up to be. That’s why this trade made 100% sense for the Lakers. They’re trading away “the point guard of the future” because they’re about to get a guy who is exactly that: Lonzo Ball. And yes, this trade 110% confirms that the Lakers are taking Lonzo. They like him enough that they’re comfortable admitting they think he’ll be better than D’Angelo, so there was no purpose in having two young point guards. Better to trade him now and get the best value you can. Not only that but they got rid of that heart wrenchingly bad contract of Timofey Mozgov, which is a weight off the back of the entire organization. I’m already praising the Lakers move and I haven’t even got to what they traded for. Brook Lopez is a very good center and a guy who has worked hard to adapt his game to the modern style by starting to shoot 3s, and even shooting them decently at 34.6%. He’ll consistently put up 18-9 numbers, and he’s a great locker room presence, as he played for the freaking Nets and was still loyal and didn’t complain. Not only that, but they nabbed the 27th overall pick in the draft, which is ultimately apart of their bigger picture: Paul George. In fact, don’t be surprised if this pick and Brook Lopez are flipped to the Pacers by tomorrow. Of course, the Lakers would have to include more than that for Paul George. Maybe they’d throw in another pick and a young prospect like Julius Randle. Anyway you look at it, I think this was a great move by the Lakers as this will probably end up being essentially trading a few late round picks, D’Angelo, and one or two other young players for their new superstar Paul George. And if they can do all this while keeping draft prospect sensation Lonzo Ball, well, then the Lakers might just be back in business. As for the Nets, I liked the move as well. Geez, what’s with GMs now man. It’s weird to have now 2 consecutive trades in which neither side got ripped off or disappointed. The Nets have literally zero incentive to do anything for next year, so they might as well bear through an even worse season in order to plan for the long run. They can’t get any young, top-end talent through draft picks, so they might as well trade for one. Even better, they’re getting a guy who’s already developed some, so they don’t have to wait as long to know what they’ve got in him. So yes, the Nets will now do somehow worse in the win column next year because of this deal, but it is so ineffably worth in order to get some hope in their franchise. And bonus, they did the league a favor and freed Brook Lopez for us. Another interesting thing about this regarding the Nets is that this trade is just more insurance that the Celtics will get another top 3, or maybe even 1st overall pick from Brooklyn next year. Overall, a good trade that made sense for both teams and brings more intrigue to the NBA.
2. Dwight Howard to the Hornets for Scraps Oh how the turn tables. (a reference from my favorite show, The Office, for those who didn’t get that) Dwight was at the top of the world from 2009-2011. He led a team to the finals, won 3 straight DPOY awards, and was deadly close to stealing the league MVP in 2011. Now? He’s a running gag throughout basketball fans and social media. He is completely and totally wrong for the revolutionized NBA. Serves him right for pulling a Shaq and forcing his way out of small market Orlando in order for the bright lights of LA. In fact, maybe Shaq tricked him into doing it in order to get revenge for Dwight stealing his Superman nickname? Sorry, off topic. But LA was a train wreck on fire, Houston was a slow display of human torture,and Atlanta was a sad, depressed man realizing that he wasted his life. Now on to Charlotte I guess? Ugh, the whole Dwight Howard situation is a mess. Now, I don’t think this is that horrible for the Hornets. They’re stuck in the uncomfortable situation of being far from any kind of playoff contenders winners, but being just good enough that they can’t fall to the basement and get a young superstar for the draft. By taking a risk on Dwight, they’re setting themselves up to make a move out of this position. He’ll either finally revitalize his career and help them become better, or he’ll destroy them inside and out and send them into full tank mode. There is no in between. As for the Hawks, they are clearly beginning their tanking process. The Dwight experiment was a failure, Schroeder wasn’t as good as they thought, and Millsap is probably leaving for greener pastures. The Hawks wanted to clear up cap space and rid their roster of any talent so that they can get a top pick for next year’s draft when they inevitably fall off a cliff. I don’t know if I can really call this trade a win for either team because both are stuck in really bad positions.
Now, there are plenty more huge rumors at every turn in the NBA right now. I already discussed the possible trade for PG13 to the Lakers going down tomorrow. Not only that, but the Cavs are probably still pushing for him. Another guy they’re pushing for is Jimmy Butler. Reports were at first that this is very likely and that Butler wanted out, but we were then informed today that Butler is committed to the Bulls and wants to stay. Not only that, but what would Cleveland have to offer? I’d want picks and young guys for Butler, not a borderline all star in Kevin Love. So if the Cavs make any kind of move, I’d think they’d have to get a 3rd team involved. And if they make a move, is it just a one year thing? Do they just want to enjoy one last title run before LeBron bolts for the bright lights of Los Angeles? And which Los Angeles team would he pick? I know the Lakers are more historic, young, and glamorous, but the Clippers have more current talent, one of his best friends, and just hired legendary player and GM Jerry West. Speaking of the Clippers, a rumor just surfaced on ESPN that the team is shopping DeAndre Jordan. If he gets moved, then I’d bet my house that CP3 and Blake decide to leave in free agency as well. And where do they go? CP3 to the Spurs is what everyone is saying, but he also plans to meet with the Nuggets and Rockets, and maybe he just stays with the Clippers so he can get the “Chris Paul” rule mega contract. Blake’s rumors say he’d most likely go to the Celtics and their rising team, but I could see scenarios with him jumping to the Cavs, Thunder, Wizards, Heat, and Blazers as well. All this and I haven’t even mentioned Gordon Hayward, whose decision could swing more than any of these other teams. Everyone seems to think that Boston is his destination (including yours truly), but maybe he stays loyal to Utah, and you can never rule out Pat Riley and the Miami Heat. Paul Millsap is definitely leaving, and he could be a great 3rd or 2nd option for a contender. Speaking of contenders, what about the Warriors’ off-season. We just heard that KD will take less money to help the team, but they’ve got more work to do. Steph is going to get a huge contract, and on top of that they’ll be scrambling to keep Iguodala and Livingston. Iggy already said he’s considering offers from other teams, and I bet Shaun wants to get paid too. Man, this is all too exciting. After the draft, I’ll post something about all my predictions for free agents. But for now, let’s keep enjoying the incredible show that we’ve seen the last week that’ll culminate in 2 days on draft night.