The Los Angeles Lakers still have time to win the D’Angelo Russell trade. Dealing the second overall pick of the 2015 draft to the Brooklyn Nets two years ago was always less about Russell than it was the allure of possibility. By ridding themselves of the obligation to pay Russell in restricted free agency and sending out Timofey Mozgov’s bloated salary for Brook Lopez, on an expiring contract, and a low first-round pick – which turned into Kyle Kuzma, by the way –afforded Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka the opportunity to create enough space below the cap for two max-level salary slots the following summer.
One of them went to LeBron James, but the other was used to fill out the roster with veterans on one-year deals rather than sign a superstar sidekick. After Paul Georged re-upped with the Oklahoma City Thunder, why overpay for an injured DeMarcus Cousins or aging DeAndre Jordan when the Lakers could just roll that cap space over to the summer of 2019?
If Los Angeles gets a second star in free agency come July, the Russell trade will still be what first facilitated that signing – even two full years later.
Still, that doesn’t mean it’s any easier for purple-and-gold clad fans across the country to watch Russell develop into the All-Star with the Nets that the Lakers, evidently, believed he’d never become. But this isn’t the first time the league’s glamour franchise has traded away a player with an All-Star past, present, or future. Below are three All-Stars who, for better or worse, were traded by Los Angeles.
Andrew Bynum – traded in 2012, All-Star in 2012
Los Angeles got off Bynum just in time. The mercurial big man enjoyed the best season of his career in 2012, averaging career-highs of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds in 35.2 minutes per game, making the first of what seemed like it would be many All-Star appearances. But his career veered off track from there, after an August 2012 trade that brought Dwight Howard to the Lakers and sent Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers. He missed the entirety of the 2012-13 season with nagging knee injuries that would ultimately lead to his career ending prematurely.
Bynum’s last season in the NBA came in 2013-14, after an infamous practice with the Cleveland Cavaliers during which he reportedly refused to pass the ball to teammates, instead jacking up shots from as far as halfcourt. The 2012-13 “Now This Is Going To Be Fun” Lakers, headlined by Kobe Bryant, Howard, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace never coalesced, beset by injuries, age, and the debilitating on- and off-court dynamic between Bryant and Howard.
Marc Gasol – traded in 2007, All-Star in 2012, 2015, 2017
Remember in spring 2007, when Bryant requested a trade from Los Angeles and subsequently criticized Bynum, then a teenager, in a video recorded by fans on a flip phone? Probably not considering the legacy Bryant left by wearing one jersey his entire career, but there’s a chance he might have played elsewhere if not for the trade that brought Pau Gasol to the Lakers in February 2008. Included in that deal, which at the time many believed represented a highway robbery for Los Angeles? Gasol’s younger brother, Marc, the 48th pick of the 2007 draft who had yet to play in the NBA.
The Lakers, of course, advanced to each of the next three NBA Finals, winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. The younger Gasol, meanwhile, quickly established himself as a cog for the Memphis Grizzlies, leading them to seven consecutive playoff appearances from 2011 to 2017, winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, and making two All-NBA teams. He was traded to the Toronto Raptors last week in a deal that marked the final end of the Grit ‘N Grind Grizzlies, one of the most beloved NBA outfits of the 2000s.
Caron Butler – traded in 2005, All-Star in 2007 and 2008.
Butler was supposed to be a fixture for Los Angeles after coming to town with Lamar Odom in a 2004 trade that officially ended the Lakers’ dynasty, sending Shaquille O’Neal to the Miami Heat. He averaged 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game during his first and only season with Los Angeles, but proved an awkward fit next to Bryant and Odom given his lack of long-range shooting ability.
Butler, after just his third NBA season, was traded to the Washington Wizards for 2001 number one overall pick Kwame Brown, who played three inconsequential seasons for the Lakers before being dealt in the 2008 trade involving Pau and Marc Gasol.
Butler came into his own with the Wizards, teaming with Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison to reach the playoffs four years running from 2005 to 2008. He was named an All-Star in 2007 and 2008, combining for 19.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.2 steals per game while emerging as a top-tier two-way player.