If recent Los Angeles Lakers trade rumors become true, it could mean a fresh start for a former NBA All-Star as he reunites with his former head coach. The Minnesota Timberwolves could be the beneficiaries of a former Chicago Bulls star as the Lakers look to clear up some room for a possible trade in the future. Here’s a look at the latest rumors regarding the Lakers and Timberwolves ahead of the NBA Draft this coming June.
As Sportsrageous reported on Friday, there’s a strong possibility that the Lakers will be trading Luol Deng to a new location. The veteran forward previously appeared on the NBA All-Star team as a member of the Chicago Bulls in his 2012 and 2013 seasons. However, he saw a diminished role as a member of the rebuilding Los Angeles squad where he played in just 56 games and averaged 26.5 minutes each time. His last season’s minutes total was under his average for his rookie season, mainly because head coach Luke Walton opted to use minutes for developing the team’s younger players such as Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance, and Julius Randle.
The 32-year-old small forward from Duke has 12 years of pro experience and an $18 million contract currently attached to him. Last season saw his averages at just 7.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. Those numbers are a decline from the previous season when he played as a member of the Miami Heat’s championship team and had 12.3 points to go with about six rebounds and two assists per contest in 73 appearances. In fact, those numbers from last season are Deng’s career-worst.
Deng also admitted he struggled when playing a different type of position in Los Angeles. The former All-Star also realizes that this Lakers team could be making some significant changes and that he may be included in those changes, as reported by Inside the Lakers’ Mark Medina.
“I believe there will be a lot of changes. When changes happen, if I’m one of the changes that happen early, clearly I can’t see myself with any input on how I would fit in. But if I’m one of the late guys to be moved, I can always look at the team and have a discussion if we both agree we fit in better.”
A team that could be highly interested in acquiring Luol Deng from the Lakers is the Minnesota Timberwolves. They’re also a team of young talents that has been rebuilding, similar to the Lakers. However, their NBA head coach is Tom Thibodeau, who previously coached Deng as a member of the Chicago Bulls for his seasons there. The Timberwolves would be able to reunite the veteran star and his coach as they look to bolster their roster for a possible playoff run. It would also allow Deng to play under a coach who understands his talents and how they fit best in the team’s system.
Minnesota finished out their season with a record of 31-51 which had them 10 games under the 41-41 record that Portland finished with. Still, their season showed glimpses of hope for the future. An injury to Zach Levine was amongst the disappointing moments, but Karl-Anthony Towns continued to develop into one of the top young stars, averaging a triple-double with points and rebounds. With Andrew Wiggins also a budding superstar, the addition of a new rookie in the NBA Draft, and the return of Zach Levine, this team is certainly trending upwards.
The upcoming NBA draft lottery will let the Lakers and Timberwolves where they stand for this June’s selection order. As of right now, mock drafts are speculating that Los Angeles could hold the third pick and the Minnesota might end up with the No. 6 pick. That could bring a point guard or a shooting guard to the Timberwolves such as Kentucky’s Malik Monk to add even more talent to a skilled lineup.
Still, with a young team right on the cusp of breaking into the postseason, adding an experienced veteran like Deng may be a smart move to make as well. It certainly would benefit a Lakers team that doesn’t seem as interested in utilizing his talents as Magic Johnson and company look to build towards new success in Los Angeles.
[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]