With only 15 games left to go in the 2016-17 NBA season, another veteran player was shut down for the year this week. Along with center Timofey Mozgov, small forward Luol Deng won’t see the floor again this season.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers have decided to continue with the evaluation of the team’s young players and sit Deng for the rest of the season:
The Los Angeles Lakers have effectively shut down healthy veterans Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov for the rest of the season to give the majority of playing time over the final 15 games to the team’s younger players, sources told ESPN.
It has been a forgettable season for Deng. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is playing for his fourth team in five years, and it appears that Father Time has caught up with him during his first season with the Lakers.
With the exception of a few decent games here and there, Deng never really got going during the 2016-17 campaign in purple and gold. The veteran forward went from struggling starter to coming off the bench in favor of Brandon Ingram and now shut down for the rest of the season.
Last summer, the Lakers made Deng their highest paid player with superstar Kobe Bryant heading into retirement. Deng signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the team after free agent Kent Bazemore was offered the same deal and took less to stay with the Atlanta Hawks.
The free agent signings of Deng and Mozgov were highly criticized back in July and now appear to be two of the worst signings by the team in recent memory. Both players will be on the team’s books for another three years and are the final moves made by the recently fired Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss along with the acquisition of Jose Calderon.
Deng played in 56 games this season for the Lakers averaging career-low numbers across the board. The veteran forward played 26.5 minutes per game averaging 7.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per contest while shooting 38.6 percent from the field.