The Los Angeles Lakers continue to improve their roster since they started a full-scale rebuild. The summer of 2018 will be vital for the purple and gold as they reportedly planned to pursue two big names in the free agency market. But first, they need to have enough salary cap space to sign two maximum players which will only be possible if they move Luol Deng and his lucrative contract.
In the 2016 offseason, the Lakers made one of the worst signings, giving aging veterans, Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng, monster deals. Upon the arrival of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka, the Lakers managed to unload Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and a 2017 first-round pick, which turned out to be Kyle Kuzma. However, they were forced to sacrifice D’Angelo Russell, a former second overall pick, in the process.
The ongoing offseason featured multiple blockbuster trades. Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Kyrie Irving will now be playing on different teams next season. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders predicted the next players to be moved, including Luol Deng of the Los Angeles Lakers.
“The LA Lakers have big dreams for the summer of 2018. They want to have two maximum salary slots, and they want to make a run at two marquee players,” Kyler said. “The problem with that dream is Laker forward Luol Deng and the three-years and $54 million remaining on his current contract. For the Lakers to reach their goal, trading away Deng (and likely Jordan Clarkson) is almost a requirement, and trying to move off that much fully guaranteed money in a single offseason is tough, even for the savviest deal makers.”
Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders shared the same sentiment, saying that trading Luol Deng will enable the Lakers to keep one of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brook Lopez, while still maintaining room for two max players. However, trading Deng alone would be close to impossible as teams aren’t willing to pay $18 million per season just for a mentor.
Adding the likes of Jordan Clarkson will surely attract potential trade partners, especially those teams who aren’t yet close to title contention or still starting the rebuilding phase. Also, according to Trevor Lane of Lakers Nation, Deng needs to show a better performance next season to increase his trade value.
Dwyane Wade for Luol Deng and Jordan Clarkson
One notable trade idea suggested by Dan Favale of Bleacher Report was a blockbuster trade that would send Luol Deng to the Chicago Bulls and Dwyane Wade to the Lakers. However, instead of engaging in two other teams, the Lakers and the Bulls can make a direct deal. In the suggested trade scenario, the Bulls would be acquiring Deng and Clarkson while the Lakers will receive Wade. The deal works on the ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine.
The trade will definitely help both teams in filling up the needs to improve on their roster. Dwyane Wade named the Lakers as one of his preferred destinations once he reached a buyout with the Bulls. Wade’s contract will expire after the 2017-18 season, allowing the Lakers to have enough salary cap space to sign two maximum players next summer.
The Lakers’ original plan is to bring LeBron James and Paul George to Los Angeles in which most people think has a high possibility of happening. With the potential arrival of James, Wade may consider signing a veteran minimum deal to return to the Lakers. As of now, the potential deal between the Lakers and the Bulls isn’t expected to happen soon but could reignite once February trade deadline draws near.
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