Following months of speculation, the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday morning made the decision to reach an agreement on a b buyout with veteran forward Luol Deng, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.
Luol Deng and the Los Angeles Lakers reached an agreement on a buyout, league sources told ESPN, and the veteran forward was waived Saturday.
Los Angeles was projecting to have $25 million in salary-cap space for the 2019-20 season. That number will increase to the $36 million to $38 million range, giving the Lakers room for another max-contract player next summer.
This decision now frees up additional salary cap space that will allow for the Lakers to be major players for next offseason to possibly lure in a top-tier free agent to play alongside LeBron James and the team’s young promising core group. Deng had initially inked a four-year, $72 million deal with the Lakers back in the summer of 2016, but things had quickly headed in the direction of him being sparsely used as time went on.
General manager Rob Pelinka released a statement on behalf of the organization that thanked Deng for his time in Los Angeles while voicing what the plans ahead are for the team.
“We want to thank Luol for his time with the Lakers,” said Pelinka. “We made this move to further our future salary cap and roster flexibility, as we continue to build this Lakers team according to our current overall vision.”
Deng had played in just the season opener this past season on taking the court 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 had been a healthy sit for the rest of the year as the Lakers looked to lean on their young forwards in Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma to lead the charge at the position. There had been some rumblings for quite some time that Deng wanted to get his career back on track elsewhere.
This provides Deng the opportunity to latch onto another franchise ahead of the 2018-19 season that will have training camp begin later this month around the league.
Bob Garcia IV
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