What is the motivation? Per SBNation:
This move was pretty clearly done to pave the way for a potential Paul George signing next summer. There were rumors that L.A. could be making a move to trade for George now, while his value is low and Indiana is selling, but it appears at least for now they’ll try and wait it out for next season when he is a free agent.
Brooklyn has been dangling Lopez’s contract for a while, and though it comes with the Mozgov contract caveat, this is about as good of a prospect as they could’ve hoped to pull. Russell was the No. 2 pick in the draft two years ago, and though he’s lacked consistency, he still has All-Star potential.
A few things to unpack here from a Celtics perspective.
Does this mean Paul George would be even less likely to re-sign somewhere if he was traded in a “rental” situation? If he thinks there’s a chance that LeBron could be headed to the Lakers then you bet he would at least keep that option wide open.
Does this make the Nets any better this year? That’s debatable. Russell has more upside and has better injury history than Lopez but I’m not sure if he makes them any better this year. I think this is a good long term play for Brooklyn but there’s still a good chance that their record still puts them in the bottom 5 in the league either way.
It has been a very interesting few days. More to come I’m sure.