After coming to an agreement with free agent center Timofey Mozgov at the opening bell of free agency, and then doing the same with young guard Jordan Clarkson, the Los Angeles Lakers set out to find more veteran talent to add to their young core.
Needing some help on the wing, they pursued Nicolas Batum and Kent Bazemore, but were turned down as both opted to return to their incumbent teams. Undaunted, the team moved on to other options, finally striking a deal with free agent forward Luol Deng, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical:
Free agent Luol Deng has reached agreement on a four-year, $72 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources tell The Vertical.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 2, 2016
Deng, a two-time All-Star, has also played for Chicago, Cleveland, and Miami over the course of a 12-year NBA Career. At 31 years old, Deng can offer the team a steady, veteran leader to lean on. He is known for being an excellent presence in the locker room, which should be a great influence both on and off the court for a Lakers team that is stocked with young players.
The person who may benefit most from this move is prized rookie Brandon Ingram, who now has a ready-made mentor at his position. Deng has spent his career playing against the very best the league has to offer, and will be able to share all of the tricks he has learned. Additionally, having an established player like Deng in the fold means that Ingram doesn’t have to feel as pressure to produce right away, and an instead take time acclimating to the NBA.
While Deng has spent most of his career playing small forward, he shifted to power forward last season for the Miami Heat to replace Chris Bosh, and performed admirably. This newfound versatility gives coach Luke Walton another option to consider when putting together his offense, which will be a nice luxury to have.
Deng has career averages of 15.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1 steal.