The cap-clearing deal for Los Angeles, which sets the team up for a run at at least one max free agent next summer, was first reported by The Vertical.
New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson decided to let go of the 21-year-old Russell, the second overall pick in the 2015 draft who averaged 15.6 points and 4.8 assists this past season. The Lakers have the No. 2 pick in Thursday’s draft and are in line to take former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, which would give second-year coach Luke Walton a leader for his up-tempo offense.
Russell is set to earn $5.6 million next season.
Mozgov is entering the second year of a four-year, $64 million contract. He and forward Luol Deng got exorbitant free-agent deals from general manager Mitch Kupchak and decision-maker Jim Buss last July. Both were dismissed in February by owner Jeanie Buss, who hired Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka to return the 16-time champions to contention.
Although Mozgov performed reasonably well when given the chance last season, averaging 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds, the 7-foot-1 Russian didn’t appear to fit into Walton’s Golden State-influenced schemes.
Lopez, 29, was a standout for the Nets in 2016-17 as he averaged 20.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 blocks. He also became a threat from 3-point range as he attempted 387 shots from behind the line and made 34.6 percent of them.
He enters 2017-18 in the final season of his contract, signed in July 2015, which will pay him $22.64 million next season.
Lopez’s expiring contract and Mozgov’s move to Brooklyn give the Lakers close to $60 million in significant cap room next summer.
But George could be L.A.-bound before that.
The Lakers and Pacers already have had trade discussions regarding the All-Star forward as part of a potential megadeal ahead of Thursday’s draft. And one option for the Lakers, sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein, is trying to sell the Pacers on a trade package headlined by the 27th and 28th overall picks in Thursday night’s draft in addition to players such as forward Julius Randle and guard Jordan Clarkson. Indiana, meanwhile, continues to try to pry away Thursday’s No. 2 overall pick despite L.A.’s well-chronicled determination to keep it off limits.
LeBron James also is among the stars eligible to be a free agent next summer.