Lakers Buy Out, Waive Luol Deng

2:09pm: Deng gave back $7.5MM on the $36.8MM left on his contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne (Twitter link). By using the waive-and-stretch provision, the Lakers will have approximately $38MM in salary cap space next summer.

1:12pm: The team has waived Deng, according to the team’s Twitter feed.

10:25am: The Lakers and forward Luol Deng have agreed to a buyout that will make the veteran a free agent, Shams Charania of The Athletic was first to report. Deng will be waived and stretched, which creates financial flexibility for Los Angeles.

Before reaching a buyout with Deng, the Lakers were projected to have $25MM in cap room for next season. However, by completing this move with Deng, that figure is expected to increase to about $36-38MM, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks. That creates room for a max contract next offseason for Los Angeles.

Deng, 33, had two years and $36.8MM left on the four-year, $72MM deal that he originally signed during the summer of 2016. Since inking that contract with the Lakers, Deng never settled into the team’s rotation, ultimately becoming an expensive bench player.

Per ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Deng is expected to field interest from several contending teams in free agency.

The former two-time All-Star played in 56 games his first year with the Lakers in 2016/17, averaging a career-low 7.6 PPG and 5.3 RPG. The Lakers sat Deng late in the season to evaluate its younger players, a role Deng assumed for all of the 2017/18 campaign.

Despite being healthy and able to play, Deng appeared in just one game this past season. The Lakers even made it publicly clear that they wanted to rid themselves of the albatross contract after the trade deadline in February.

“We wish, huh?” Johnson said with a laugh about whether or not the team was close to trading Deng (via The Orange County Register). “No, that didn’t happen. You want to make a move for us?”

While Deng was commended for his professionalism by Lakers brass, he insisted that his skills can still be effective on the right team. Speaking to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune in January, Deng said he can be an effective player on the court.

“That’s no question,” Deng said. “I’m not playing because I can’t play. If we’re going to go there, it is what it is. But I know I can play.”

In 14 NBA seasons, Deng wields career averages of 15.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 2.3 APG between the Bulls, Cavaliers, Heat and Lakers.

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