L.A. Lakers Rumors: Luol Deng Injury Benches Former All-Star
L.A. Lakers rumors have Luol Deng missing time due to a left knee injury. The Lakers signed Deng during the 2016 NBA offseason, hoping he would add depth to the wing position. A report from NBA.com indicates that the injury forced Deng to sit out Sunday’s game, Oct. 9, against the Denver Nuggets.
The good news is that it doesn’t appear that Deng’s injury is all that serious, with the classification given as a “bruised left knee” by Lakers coach Luke Walton. It’s possible he would be on the court if the injury took place during the regular season and the game had any meaning to the standings. Instead, this will afford the team a further opportunity to see what Nick Young can do with the starters.
There had been a number of L.A. Lakers rumors about how the starting rotation would look this season. Metta World Peace has started at small forward as well this preseason, making Young the third Lakers player to get an opportunity at the position. This just about guarantees that Brandon Ingram will begin the regular season coming off the bench for the Lakers.
The Lakers signed Deng to a four-year, $72 million deal during the offseason, making him one of the first free agents to find a new team. A report from ESPN stated that Deng had averaged 15.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.2 steals in 28 games following the All-Star break. He also shot 48.4 percent from the field, playing a lot of minutes for the Miami Heat at the power forward position after Chris Bosh was lost to blood clots. Heat president Pat Riley spoke well of Deng at the time.
“He was getting more space and room to run and cut and be himself. He’s a great leader. We love him. He’s a high-character guy. I consider him one of our core people.”
There were a lot of other L.A. Lakers rumors during the NBA offseason as well, with the front office trying to improve a roster that struggled to a 17-65 record during the 2015-16 NBA season. What ended up happening was the Lakers agreed to new deals with Jordan Clarkson and Timofey Mozgov. The young core of players also returns, led by point guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Julius Randle. The Lakers spent a lot of money to improve the roster, and they enter the season with salaries totaling close to $100 million.
There are still additional L.A. Lakers trade rumors that could lead to something if the team doesn’t find success early in the NBA season. Through the first two preseason games, Jordan Clarkson leads the Lakers in scoring at 13.5 points per game. He is followed by D’Angelo Russell at 12.5 points per game, Lou Williams at 12.5, Tarik Black at 10.5, Larry Nance Jr. at 10.0, and Luol Deng at 8.0.
Deng has only appeared in one of the preseason games, playing 16 minutes and going 3-for-7 from the field. He also had two rebounds in the game. That game was a victory over the Sacramento Kings (103-84), but the Lakers then lost to the Denver Nuggets without him (97-101) on October 7. There are six games remaining on the preseason schedule for the Lakers, including two with the Golden State Warriors, giving Deng an opportunity to heal up and work on chemistry with his teammates.
In the updated odds at making the NBA Finals, the L.A. Lakers have fallen to a 500-to-1 shot. It underscores how analysts and experts feel that the team isn’t quite ready to compete with some of the contenders in the Western Conference. The hope is that having a former All-Star like Luol Deng and a new head coach in Luke Walton can put the team on a winning track. Anything less than early success, though, and fans are going to hear a lot of L.A. Lakers rumors about possibly acquiring a proven star in exchange for some of the youth on the roster.
[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]