Lakers’ Luol Deng Wants Opportunity To Play

After playing 13 minutes in the Lakers‘ 2017/18 regular season opener last October, Luol Deng didn’t appear in another game all year. According to Deng, that was an “organizational decision” that he respected, but didn’t necessarily agree with, as Stuart Hess of South African outlet IOL relays (hat tip to NBC Sports).

“Throughout the year I tried to play and every time they said they wanted to play the young guys, so that’s their direction,” Deng said this week as he prepares for the NBA Africa Game.

Having signed a four-year, $72MM contract in the summer of 2016, Deng is viewed as a negative asset due to his exorbitant salary, but believes he’s still capable of contributing to an NBA team. It seems unlikely he’ll get any more opportunities in 2018/19 than he did last season, however, given the arrival of LeBron James and other veterans, not to mention the Lakers’ continuing desire to develop their young players.

“I don’t know what’s going on now. Hopefully soon I will know. I would like to know the answers,” Deng said. “I know the level I can play at and the decision is something they came up with, whatever the criticism or the plan is, none of it was my decision, people need to understand that. They can say whatever they want, I know I can play the game, they see me at practice every day. If it was a game thing then come out and say it, but the honest truth, it’s the decision they made.”

Since they didn’t end up needing to maximize their cap space to acquire a second star to complement James this summer, the Lakers have kept Deng on the roster. Waiving and stretching him would have created about $11MM in extra cap room, but it would’ve also meant taking on cap charges of $7MM+ for the next five years.

If L.A. keeps Deng under contract for another year, it will be far more palatable for the team to stretch his contract – or even try to trade him – next offseason. For his part, the veteran forward sounds as if he’ll get a little impatient as he waits for an opportunity to get back on the court.

“I want to play, I want to be a part of something,” Deng said. “But I’m not going to be a part of a place where you don’t believe in me. I’m not trying to knock down anybody, but I play for people who believe in me. I’ve taken every opportunity since day one and proven myself, I’m not going to sit here and give you the right answer, I’m going to be honest about it, for me, if the respect and appreciation is not there then I’d rather be elsewhere.”

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38 thoughts on “Lakers’ Luol Deng Wants Opportunity To Play

    • Kenleyfornia74

      Lakers should have tried to trade him for the expiring Dwight deal.

  1. Michael Chaney

    He can agree to a buyout and return some of that money to sign a minimum salary deal with someone who would give him a little playing time, or he can keep all the money and keep being a “DNP-Coach’s Decision” for the rest of his contract. He can’t have both.

    • bravesfan88

      Lakers won’t buy him out with this many years and money attached..Unfortunately, they won’t stretch him either, for the exact same reason..

      So, they’re are basically stuck with each other for another year..Well, why not play Deng, after him working out and getting a year of rest on his knees. It isn’t like Deng is a bad player..

      Deng is a solid rebounder, he’s capable of hitting corner 3’s, he’s capable of cutting to the basket, and scoring around the rim, and he’s a very good defender both in man and pick n roll situations..

      The Lakers have enough players that need the ball to operate, so Deng could fit in perfectly now..

      From my point of view, if they’re trying to win, there’s no reason to continuously sit Deng..Luol can help LA win, and provide them with some solid minutes off their bench..

      What really sucks is Luol Deng is one of the nicest guys, he is an excellent teammate, and he is one of the hardest workers you’ll ever meet in the NBA. He definitely deserves better than how LA is currently treating him..

      • toudi

        Well said!
        Nbpa should fight for his right to play.. It shouldn’t be legal to sign a guy and keep him on the bench for a few years for no reason really..
        And nba should want to prove to us that this game is not only about money! What ever happened to “I love this game”?

        • Connorsoxfan

          Last year it was to develop their young guys, which made sense. Now though, he can help them win games. Also, the game only is about money. I wish it wasn’t, but it is.

    • natsfan3437

      Buyouts only really work if there is only one year left on the deal.
      If it’s multiple years it doesn’t make sense for the team because he’ll still have a large cap number each season.

  2. Kenleyfornia74

    Deng deserves a shot at the 3 off the bench. No reason to not at least see what he can do

  3. Dionis

    Wouldn’t be a bad fit on the Bullls since they don’t really have a small-forward beyond Parker and Hutchison.

  4. murwin

    I don’t feel sorry for him. Take a buyout and walk away. You already screwed the Lakers for enough money!

    • the dude

      Again, the Lakers offered the money to him then benched him. How is it his fault?

      • Lol thank you. Why would anyone walk away if money like that was being offered?

    • the players union would not even allow him to do that, so it’s a moot point.

    • No, the Lakers screwed the Lakers. It was a bad deal then, and it’s a bad deal now.

      Stupid decisions have consequences.

  5. the dude

    Everyone saying he should take a buyout… Buyouts rarely result in a huge amount of money given up. If the Lakers bought out Deng they’d be on the hook for a good chunk of his salary, for all the Years he has left. If he was in his last year OT would make sense, his contract would come off the books. But he has a year or two after this year (not sure how long) so buying him out would both tie up cap room and eliminate a nice trade chip next summer. I’m sure Deng would jump at the chance to take a buyout that would result in getting paid to go away and still play for a contender, but it makes no sense for the Lakers to do that. So they should just play him a bit, even every 3 games or something just to show other teams he can still play and get some incentive for a future trade.

    • imindless

      Starting to think this either deng agent or deng himself. Dudes is trash, the decline started 2 years ago, cant guard anyone cant shoot. No trend on the tires ingram outplayed him for time. Walton tried to use him but he simply isnt good and is slow. I watch ever game, i know. So please take your burner account elsewhere.

      • LordBanana

        So what if you watch every game he didn’t play, you saw as much of him this year as everyone else.

        Fact is he would play minutes if he had a smaller contract.

  6. formerlyz

    Its amazing how they watched him struggle offensively the way he did in Miami at the 3, before he moved to the 4/5 and exploded, which got him paid by them, and then thought he should only play the 3 2 years later. Genius use of that deal. And Luol Deng is such a good dude, and hard worker. He deserves better than getting trashed for not even getting the opportunity he thought he was getting when he signed that deal. The money is obviously nice, but everyone hates him for the Lakers inability to know who he even is. Not his fault they never used him right

    • bravesfan88

      Thank you, finally someone with some sense!!

      Not to mention, everyone screaming that he only wants his money, they clearly don’t understand how the financial part of the buyout process works. The Lakers won’t buy him out, it isn’t even up to Luol, and all he wants is a chance to play..

      Even after sitting out about 80 games, he’s still willing to play for this team..Even after they’ve basically taken away a year or two off his career, this is the first we have ever heard from Luol, and ALL he wants to do is get a chance to play.

      If anyone thinks it is all about the money for Luol, they clearly don’t know Luol Deng!! You will be hard pressed to find a more generous sole, who actually donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to various charities ever year..

      So please people, think before you speak..Especially before you speak so ignorantly about one of the best men in professional sports..


        im bulls fan, and i know how good is he. he have a good work ethic. and that contract isnt his fault. obsv many people told this situation is his fault. he deserve for some minutes

  7. JoeyPankake

    Showcase him for a few months and trade him if he still has value. Not like the Lakers are winning anything this season anyway.

  8. hiflew

    I can’t fault him. Who wouldn’t think that the team had big plans for them when signing them to an $18 million a year contract? He probably wouldn’t have signed with them just to sit on the bench and wither away. Yes, he gets his money now, but what about at the end of this deal? No one is going to even offer a minimum contract to someone that hasn’t played in years. This deserves to have a grievance filed with the player’s union.

    For anyone saying he should just shut up and take the money, where is your pride? Most people don’t want to treated like a prostitute in their jobs and just have money left on the dresser. Most people actually take pride in doing a good job for the salary they are paid.

    • paladin

      Whoa, there sailor!!! So why throw shade at prostitutes? They are hard working folks just like many people in this country, they do their thing & provide a valuable service. Many “Take pride in doing a good job for the salary they are paid”. I am impressed that the places that you must frequent have dressers in the rooms. Fancy pants!!!

  9. OCTraveler

    Doesn’t matter what Deng or the Lakers want – only thing that matters is what LeBron wants – maybe if Deng kisses up to James, he might get some playing time

  10. natsfan3437

    Trade him and a first to Brooklyn for demare Carroll.
    Athletic good defensive guy who can shoot and can play 3 and 4, also on a 1 year deal.

  11. Spike4christ

    Trade him to Atlanta does bazemore with an attached 1st round pick or Anderson in Houston.

  12. At least he wants to play. Joakim Noah loves living in the wild and getting paid by the Knicks.

  13. Possible trades : L. Deng and Zuback and first draft pick 2019 to Sacramento. Lakers receive Randolph and Cauley-Stein.
    L. Deng and L. Ball to Minnesota for A. Wiggins.
    I don’t see another possible trade

  14. Deng’s a smart player, hard worker, and great defender. LeBron will find a way to get him on the court.

  15. #FreeLuolDeng. Lakers need to do right by him.
    Cannot stand when teams sign this guys to a huge contracts & then don’t play them, specially Deng & Noah, but Mozgov & others too, they are just victims of idiotic teams/FO’s.
    Why do fans defend their teams like is fault of this guys? They just wanna play, be mad at your team, is what a good fan would do.

    • Kenleyfornia74

      It was the old Lakers front office that signed him. Laker fans are still mad at mitch and jim believe me

    • Harwood

      Can’t fault a new FO & coaching staff for the crap they inherited from the previous regime. Magic, Pelinka & Walton have no obligation to play the bad contracts that partly got Jimbaco & Mitch fired in the first place.

      • paladin

        Maybe so, but you can’t expect any trade value if you do not show he can play ten minutes or so. If you do not play him, do not expect to be able to trade him. Eat the 38 mill and stop the whining about the poor crap contract.

        • Harwood

          This is true. It’s not like giving garbage time to Deng over whatever career D leaguer was playing those 6 minutes off the bench would have taken away from “developing young players”.

  16. paladin

    Finally, I have been screaming about this situation for months now. Deng said it was an ”organization” decision to play young guys. I get that but in a season where you are not close to the playoffs and you want to lose this albatross of a contract you have to at least play the guy 10/15 minutes a game to show that maybe he can play and possibly take the contract. If Lakers will not play him, why would another organization take him to help the Lakers out for 37 million. Really laughable not to play him 10 minutes a game in a losing, dumpster fire season. He should try blowing in Lebrons ear like Lance did, it worked…..

  17. raisethejollyroger

    Shut up with calling on the nbapa to make the team play him! No one has a right of anything! You earn playing time. You earn it by work. Not because you’re a nice guy or a former dookie. Regardless of his contract a bad one at that he’s a border line nba player at this point. If he can grab some boards be a cog on the defensive end and grab spot minutes sure play him but the Lakers are t gonna get their moneys worth with him or by trading him. They’re both stuck. In the meantime get back to reality and stop this entitlement mentality with everything. Especially when it comes to working for what you’re worth.

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