Since joining the Lakers, Luol Deng, the 33-year-old small forward, has been a huge disappointment and has failed to live up to expectations. Deng found himself out of the Lakers’ rotation last season where he only played one game and 13 minutes.
Per Stuart Hess of Independent Online, Luol Deng is clearly disappointed with his current situation in Los Angeles. He strongly believes that he still has something left in his tank, but the Lakers aren’t letting him prove himself on the floor.
“I want to play, I want to be a part of something. But I’m not going to be a part of a place where you don’t believe in me. I’m not trying to knock down anybody, but I play for people who believe in me. I’ve taken every opportunity since day one and proven myself, I’m not going to sit here and give you the right answer, I’m going to be honest about it, for me, if the respect and appreciation is not there then I’d rather be elsewhere.”
Since assuming front office roles, one of the top priorities of Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka has been to unload bad contracts on their roster. They have succeeded in getting rid of Timofey Mozgov using D’Angelo Russell as trade bait, and most people expected the Lakers to do the same with Luol Deng.
However, some NBA teams who expressed willingness to help with the Lakers’ current financial situation are asking for too much. In an appearance on Lakers Nation podcast, Keith Smith of RealGM revealed that opposing teams are demanding at least one of Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball, and a future first-round pick.
The Lakers may consider attaching a future first-round pick, but as of now, it is highly unlikely that they will part ways with their young core. Johnson first wants to see how their young players will perform playing alongside LeBron James. There are speculations that the Lakers are planning to create their own version of the Golden State Warriors “Death Lineup” featuring James, Kuzma, Ingram, Hart, and Ball.
If the Lakers can’t find a trade partner for Luol Deng, they could waive his contract using the stretch provision. This will greatly help them create enough salary cap space to chase max free agents in the summer of 2019.