After only appearing in 57 games over the last two seasons, Luol Deng was bought out via the stretch provision by the Los Angeles Lakers.
As Deng’s role quickly diminished in his first season, all the attention was naturally on his four-year, $72 million deal. While his production did not come anywhere close to his contract, the NBA’s new television deal and increased spending power impacted the decision-making process for most teams in 2016.
Along with remaining a professional during this situation, Deng is said to have ultimately given up $7.5 million in the buyout.
With Deng becoming a free agent, it is currently unclear what the Lakers will do with the open roster spot, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
This gives Lakers a max slot next year, roster spot this year and means they don’t have to give up an asset to shed Deng’s contract in a trade. I’m told Lakers don’t have an immediate plan for the open roster spot. https://t.co/aSx1jCdLLZ
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) September 1, 2018
Heading into the 2018-19 NBA season, the Lakers could use another center, but there are not too many options at this stage of the offseason. With the Lakers only having JaVale McGee, Ivica Zubac and Moritz Wagner, LeBron James is expected to play center in certain situations.
As Deng is hopeful of signing with another team, the Lakers will officially be players once again in 2019 free agency. Armed with a projected $38 million in cap space, the Lakers have already been linked to Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard as Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Kyrie Irving will be free agents as well.