Chris Haynes of ESPN broke the news earlier today:
Veteran forward Luol Dèng and the Los Angeles Lakers have reached an agreement on a buyout, league sources tell ESPN.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) September 1, 2018
Report: Los Angeles Lakers Agree to Buyout with Luol Deng
Deng signed a four-year deal worth $72 million during the summer of 2016. His production severely declined with the Lakers. During the 2016-17 season, he shot only 38.7% from the field and averaged 7.6 points per game, which was the first time in his career that he did not average double digits. Deng appeared in only one game last season and scored two points. With forwards LeBron James and Michael Beasley joining the squad, there was no path to playing time for him.
Deng still had two years left on his contract. The Lakers should add an additional 11 to 13 million dollars in cap space for next summer after the deal is final. This would bring their total to at $36 million and open up another max slot. With James on the team, this move was inevitable. The Lakers are in win-now mode and have been linked to 2019 free agents Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard. Their clear priority is adding another star player to play with James and offloading Deng’s salary was the first step to accomplish that.
Deng has been a very effective player throughout his career. He is a two-time All-Star and was on the 2011-12 All-Defensive second team. Deng is primarily known for time with the Chicago Bulls when he was an elite perimeter defender and skilled scorer. He still has talent and played well enough with the Miami Heat during the 2015-16 season to earn a $72 million contract. At this point in his career, he would be better suited as a power forward. Deng should be able to find a roster spot on a contender or a young team looking for a veteran presence.
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