Luol Deng was one of the significant free agent signings for the Los Angeles Lakers this past summer. Although Deng isn’t a superstar or a player that drastically changes the direction of the team, the journeyman is a solid addition to a young team needing some veteran guidance and leadership in the locker room.
Apparently, one of the major selling points for Deng to sign with the Lakers with new head coach Luke Walton. Deng was intrigued with the system Walton was going to implement and the role he’d play in Los Angeles as he told Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:
“I was really excited about the system and also the role that I would play,” Deng told Southern California News Group. “I’m able to play as hard as I can on the court and lead these guys, while also being a voice in the locker room.”
Deng’s play on the defensive end and ability to stretch floor likely appealed to Walton during the free agency process. The 31-year-old may not be the player he once was with the Chicago Bulls a few years back, but he’s still a player that can contribute on both ends and an upgrade for the Lakers at the three spot.
At this point, Deng will almost certainly be the starting small forward for the Lakers once the regular season gets underway on Oct. 26. Walton plans to bring rookie Brandon Ingram along slowly as a reserve rather than thrusting him into the starting lineup to begin his NBA career.
The rest of the starting lineup appears to be set in stone with the exception of the shooting guard position. Lou Williams has started every game in the preseason thus far with Jordan Clarkson coming off the bench. All signs point to Williams continuing to start in the regular season, but Clarkson could still tilt the scales before the season opener against the Houston Rockets.