The Los Angeles Lakers have huge plans to potentially add two maximum free agents in the summer of 2018. In order to create the necessary salary cap space to do so, however, a number of moves must be made. A big one is somehow getting rid of Luol Deng’s contract.
Deng still has two years and $37 million guaranteed remaining on his deal, so no team is taking that on without additional pieces. It cost the Lakers former No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell to get out from Timofey Mozgov’s contract, but the same likely won’t happen with Deng.
Unwilling to sacrifice the likes of Brandon Ingram or Lonzo Ball, the Lakers presumably would have to add at least one first-round draft pick to get rid of Deng. But according to Bobby Marks of ESPN, the team is unwilling to do that:
“Sources close to the team told ESPN that they will not attach a first-round pick to the Deng contract to shed his salary.”
After this season, when their draft pick will be sent to either Philadelphia or Boston, the Lakers will finally be in control of their picks moving forward. Thanks to the ill-fated Dwight Howard and Steve Nash deals, the team has owed picks for the last few seasons, and that time has finally passed.
The Lakers and Deng are on the same page about wanting a split. But Los Angeles finiding the right way to do so in order to maximize the cap room they so desperately need for this upcoming summer is the next question.
Sacrificing more future assets for a team fixated on the future may not be the best route. Nonetheless, the front office will continue to explore every way in which they can set themselves up to make a major splash in free agency next summer.
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