The Lakers have submitted a request to the NBA in an attempt to remove Luol Deng‘s remaining cap hits from their team salary for the next two seasons, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Deng agreed to a buyout with the Lakers before the start of the 2018/19 season. The team stretched his remaining salary across multiple seasons at that point and is still on the hook for cap charges worth $5MM apiece in 2020/21 and ’21/22.
If a player suffers a career-ending injury or illness, the NBA will typically permit his team to remove his remaining salary from its cap after he has been waived, though the player still receives that salary. Chris Bosh, Nikola Pekovic, Mirza Teletovic, Omer Asik, and Timofey Mozgov are some of the players whose cap hits have been removed from teams’ books in recent years due to career-ending ailments.
It’s not at all certain that the Lakers will receive any cap relief for Deng, however. Following his buyout in 2018, the veteran forward signed with Minnesota and played 22 games for the Timberwolves during the ’18/19 season before retiring last fall. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Deng didn’t suffer an injury during his Lakers stint that eventually ended his career, but it will be difficult to prove that, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).
If the Lakers’ request is granted, it would give the franchise some added flexibility during the next two offseasons for roster moves. An extra $5MM of wiggle room could make it more viable for the team to retain players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo while still using its mid-level exception, as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report points out (via Twitter).