The NBA has denied the Lakers‘ request to remove Luol Deng‘s dead money from their salary cap, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). As a result, Deng’s $5MM cap hits will remain on the team’s books this season and in 2021/22.
The Lakers requested last month to have Deng’s salary remove from their cap. The Collective Bargaining Agreement allows teams to remove cap charges for a waived player who hasn’t played in the NBA for at least one year if an independent doctor determines that the player sustained a career-ending injury during his time with the team.
However, that was always going to be a difficult case for the Lakers to make. Deng announced his retirement in the fall of 2019 after being let go by L.A. a year earlier, but his 2018 buyout with the team was reported at the time as a cap-related move, with no career-ending injury mentioned.
The veteran forward subsequently signed with Minnesota and played 22 games for the Timberwolves during the ’18/19 season before retiring.
The Lakers likely recognized it was a long shot to have Deng’s salary excluded from their cap, but figured it was worth a try. The team is right up against a hard cap this season and could’ve benefited from an extra $5MM of flexibility in the summer of 2021 as well.