The Los Angeles Lakers have further improved their positioning for next summer’s free agent frenzy. The team agreed to a buyout with veteran forward Luol Deng, who signed a 4-year, $72 million contract with the team when free agency opened in 2016.
With the move, the Lakers will have full flexibility when seeking max contracts to pair with LeBron James. James himself inked a 4-year, $154 million deal with the Lakers during this summer’s free agent signing period.
"We made this move to further our future salary cap and roster flexibility as we continue to build this Lakers team according to our current overall vision," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said in a statement.
Deng, who is now 33 years old, did not factor into the Lakers’ future plans. Under the new administration of Magic Johnson and Pelinka, Deng appeared in just one game during the 2017-18 season. The Lakers also added a host of capable players this summer to go along with the team’s vibrant core.
Deng, a 14-year NBA veteran, made more of an impact during the first year of his Lakers’ contract, as he competed in 56 games. He was subsequently shut down that year to provide playing time to the younger players on the roster.
Deng was signed alongside Timofey Mozgov, both of whom received lucrative contracts under former general manager Mitch Kupckak. Deng should resurface with another team. His playing style simply did not mesh with Luke Walton’s pace-and-space offense, especially with the Lakers going in a youthful direction.
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