Don’t expect Luol Deng and the Los Angeles Lakers to part ways anytime soon.
We know both sides are looking for a way to dissolve their union. But an amicable solution, or any solution, doesn’t appear to be on the way.
A buyout, for the record, is basically out of the question. Deng has two years and $36.8 million left on his deal after this season. The Lakers won’t want to pay even a tiny fraction of it if they’re getting rid of him, since they’re trying to carve out not one, but two max-contract slots for this summer.
That essentially leaves a trade as the Lakers’ only option—and, as of now, it technically isn’t even an option, according to the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Luol Deng wants out of Los Angeles, but the Lakers are unlikely to offer a buyout and a team source described the trade market for Deng as “non-existent currently.”
One year after signing a four-year, $72 million contract to join the Lakers, the veteran forward told ESPN that he and his agent have discussed a buyout with the Lakers, as well as trade options that would allow the 32-year-old two-time All-Star to finish his career elsewhere.
Deng has been inactive for nine of the Lakers’ 10 games, while the organization has turned its attention to developing its young core.
Teams that might be willing to take on Deng will point out they’re paying him for three seasons, amounting to a commitment of $54 million. And since everyone around the league knows what the Lakers are up to, said teams, assuming any exist, will likely demand a premium-and-a-half to aid this salary dump.
Trading Deng over the summer, when he really only has two years left on his deal, should be easier. But then the Lakers tie themselves to making sure they don’t take back any money in return, because inbound salaries for 2018-19 only compromise their flexibility. The Lakers can stretch Deng this summer, but then they’ll have to pay him around $7.4 million over the next half-decade.
Hence the precariousness of this situation, and why we need to keep an eye on Hollywood’s golden child. They have some interesting obstacles to clear in the coming months.