It comes to no surprise that Luol Deng and the Lakers have been on shaky ground ever since the young Laker kids are getting most of the playing time. Deng hasn’t had much playing time on the court since the Lakers have been going towards the youth movement. Deng who’s a seasoned veteran, signed on with the Lakers in the summer of 2016 for 4-years/$72 mil. Deng is on the second year of his contract but has been unhappy due to lack of participation.
According to Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN.com:
Deng remained right where he has been for most of the season — on the inactive list while the Lakers prioritize developing their younger players over getting value out of the man they signed to a four-year, $72 million contract in the summer of 2016.
“It definitely hurts,” Deng told ESPN on Monday after the Lakers practiced. “But the only answer for me now is to prove myself away from L.A. I’m not asked to play, I’m not in the rotation, so I can’t prove myself here.
“Most of these young guys don’t understand the business of basketball, so if I come in here and I’m angry every day, I’m taking something away from them. I have to be smiling, I have to be in the best mood I can be in, because they’re living their dream of being an NBA player.”
Deng said he and his agent, Jeff Austin from Octagon sports management, have been working with the Lakers to resolve the situation, either via trade or buyout. He understands it may take weeks, months or even years to settle, as he has two years and nearly $37 million remaining on his contract after this season.
The Lakers will most likely look to trade Deng since it’s better for them to not have to pay out Deng’s contract. Trying to trade an aging veteran probably won’t be easy as Deng still has $26 mil remaining in his contract. If all else fails, then a buyout would be a final option.