Two years removed from signing a four-year, $72 million contract prior to the 2016-17 NBA season, Luol Deng was bought out of the deal via the stretch provision by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Since Deng only appeared in a combined 57 games over the past two seasons, he reportedly gave up $7.3 million in the buyout in order to become a free agent.
As a result, the Lakers will have $38 million in salary cap space available for 2019 free agency which may feature Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.
With the 33-year-old Deng looking to finish his career on his terms, the Minnesota Timberwolves are pursuing him heading into the 2018-19 season, according to Marc Stein of New York Times:
The Wolves have launched their planned pursuit of @LuolDeng9, league sources say, after the veteran forward became a free agent by clearing waivers earlier this week
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 5, 2018
This comes as no surprise as the Timberwolves were reportedly interested in Deng if he was ultimately bought out. With head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau in charge, it is an opportunity for him to reunite with another member of the Chicago Bulls.
After trading for Jimmy Butler prior to the 2017-18 season, the Timberwolves eventually signed Derrick Rose. As Deng may eventually sign, the Timberwolves are also reportedly interested in Joakim Noah if the New York Knicks buy him out as well.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear what, if anything, the Lakers will do with the open roster space. It’s likely the team doesn’t fill it prior to the regular season beginning.