Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng continues to receive DNP-CD treatment from coach Luke Walton in the 2017-18 NBA season. Though most people expect him to be traded soon, opposing teams won’t have any interest unless they see him perform well this season or the Lakers decide to include at least one of their young players in any deal. Should the Lakers use the stretch provision on Deng?
Giving Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng lucrative contracts was one of the biggest mistakes the Lakers ever made in their franchise history. Upon assuming the front-office role, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka did their best to bring the team back on the right path. In the recent offseason, they managed to unload Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets but needed to sacrifice D’Angelo Russell in the process.
The Lakers are also expected to do the same thing with Luol Deng. With their goal to sign two superstars in 2018 free agency, removing Deng’s salary from the book is a priority. Coach Luke Walton decided to remove Deng from their rotation to give more playing time to young forwards like Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr., and Kyle Kuzma. Unless some players need to rest or suffer an injury, the DNP-CD treatment will continue.
According to Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation, the Lakers won’t be able to move Luol Deng unless they are willing to attach Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram. If they are serious about creating cap space next summer, the Lakers may consider another option.
“The main, possibly only, avenue left for the Lakers is to use the stretch provision on the remaining two years of his contract this summer. The (aptly named) stretch provision stretches the cap hit of a contract the team wants to get rid of over double the remaining life of the contract plus an additional year. In the Lakers’ case, stretching Deng would take the remaining $36 million on his contract and extend the hit over five years, meaning the Lakers would have him on their books at around $7.2 million until the summer of 2023.”
Using the stretch provision on Deng should be the last option for the Lakers. Despite having less cap hit per year, it will still have a major effect on their cap flexibility in the long run. Failing to unload Deng and his expensive contract will hinder the Lakers’ plan to sign big names in the summer of 2018.
However, it will also help them preserve their current roster. Despite the huge chance of becoming a legitimate title contender, signing an aging superstar like LeBron James would be a risky move for the Lakers. If they fail to trade Deng, the Lakers should patiently wait for the development of their young players and follow the Golden State Warriors’ blueprint on their way back to title contention.
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