The Los Angeles Lakers have been decimated by injuries over the past month, with their wing rotation in particular taking a big hit. With so many players out, Luol Deng has had to travel and suit up with the team just so they have enough players on the bench.
Of course, Deng hasn’t played since the season opener as he and the Lakers agreed that he would sit out until they could find a resolution by way of trade or a buyout. That hasn’t happened yet, and there was some consideration given to playing Deng when the Lakers were down so many players because of injuries.
In the end, the team decided against it and Deng explained why to Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
“We just kind of all agreed that with 19 games, if I go out there and let’s say, God forbid, something happened,” Deng said. “The whole point was play the young guys [and] actually see what they could do in the summer with me and everything. If I was to get injured or anything, it would be a lot harder and it would it would defeat the whole purpose of me not playing 60-something games.”
At this point, Deng will obviously remain with the Lakers for the rest of the season. The team will then try to trade him during the summer, or at that point could at last decide to use the stretch provision on the veteran forward.
If the Lakers are able to sign two big free agents, ridding themselves of Deng’s contract is necessary to free up the needed salary cap space.
In the meantime, the Lakers will continue to mix up their lineups and turn to young players like Travis Wear to fill minutes. Both Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart are close to making their return to the court, so expectations on Deng coming back will be a thing of the past.
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