In need of some veteran leadership to supplement the large amount of young potential on the roster, the Los Angeles Lakers signed Luol Deng to a four year, $72 million contract this offseason. Deng’s leadership, reliability, and defense will play a big role on this young squad.
Fans got their first glimpse of Deng on Tuesday night in the team’s preseason opener and he was as advertised, solid on both ends of the floor and constantly teaching the younger players. It looks like the Lakers will be missing that in their second game.
According to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News, Deng is listed as doubtful for tonight’s game against the Denver Nuggets with a bruised left knee:
Luol Deng listed as doubtful for tonight vs. Denver because of bruised left knee. He bumped knees w/ Anthony Brown during practice on Thurs
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) October 7, 2016
With it just being a bruise caused by bumping knees in practice, this is likely just a precautionary move. Deng doesn’t need extra reps like many of the team’s younger players and rest is never a bad thing. He is already 31 years old and missing a preseason game isn’t a big deal. As long as this doesn’t linger and turn out to be worse than expected, there is nothing to worry about.
It will now be on the other Lakers to step up, most noticeably rookie Brandon Ingram who would seem most likely to join the starting lineup in Deng’s place. Ingram struggled on Tuesday, missing all five of his shots, but did make an impact on defense. Everyone has high hopes for Ingram and a strong showing in his first start, even if it’s just preseason, would make fans very happy.
Other than Ingram, expect Anthony Brown to play a larger role as well. The second-round pick struggled last season and in Summer League to make shots consistently, but is one of the team’s strongest perimeter defenders. If he can build on his performance Tuesday (10 points, 4-4 shooting) he could potentially force his way into the rotation as well.