Through the first 10 games of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers have largely depended on the younger players on the roster.
This has seemingly left veteran forward Luol Deng completely out of the mix from being in the rotation. With that in mind, the 32-year-old recently told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN that he is hoping to be moved by the Lakers in order to get an opportunity to play.
“It definitely hurts,” Deng told ESPN on Monday after the Lakers practiced. “But the only answer for me now is to prove myself away from L.A. I’m not asked to play, I’m not in the rotation, so I can’t prove myself here.
“Most of these young guys don’t understand the business of basketball, so if I come in here and I’m angry every day, I’m taking something away from them. I have to be smiling, I have to be in the best mood I can be in, because they’re living their dream of being an NBA player.”
Even with the injury to third-year forward Larry Nance Jr., the Lakers have elected to go with rookie Kyle Kuzma in the starting spot at power forward. Kuzma has continued to excel in a starting role as he’s recorded a pair of double-doubles in his first two starts while averaging 15.4 points per game, which is third highest in the league for rookies.
Deng has only played in the season opener against the L.A. Clippers where he drew the start scoring two points on 1-of-2 shooting from the field with an assist and a steal in 13 minutes played.
He is currently in the second year of his four-year, $72 million deal that doesn’t include any player or team options. At this point, it would hard for the Lakers to move him via a trade given the level of production he can provide at this point of his career. On top of that, a buyout would also be a hard to come as it would impact the team’s amount of financial flexibility.