Aside from LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers have failed to acquire other big names in the 2018 NBA offseason. Paul George, who expressed his desire to play his hometown team last summer, immediately re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency, while the Lakers refused to part ways with valuable trade assets to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs. However, that doesn’t mean that the Lakers have already given up in adding more superstars to their team.
Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka purposely filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019. The 2019 NBA free agency will be loaded with several NBA superstars such as Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeAndre Jordan. As of now, there is one thing that is blocking the Lakers’ way for their next biggest acquisition — Luol Deng and the remaining two years and $36.8 million left on his contract.
Dan Favale of Bleacher Report recently suggested ways on how NBA teams can get rid of the league’s worst contracts. For the Lakers, Favale proposed that they may consider engaging a trade deal with the Sacramento Kings. The Kings are currently in the middle of a rebuilding process. They won’t definitely mind absorbing Deng’s contract if the Lakers are willing to attach future draft picks in the trade package.
In the proposed trade deal by Bleacher Report, the Lakers will be sending Luol Deng, together with a 2019 first-round pick (top-three protected), 2020 second-round pick, and 2021 second-round pick, to the Kings for Zach Randolph and Iman Shumpert. The deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine. The suggested trade will be beneficial for both the Lakers and the Kings as it will help them address the issues on their roster.
“As for the Lakers, they shouldn’t think twice. Yes, they’re playing the long game. Their post-LeBron signings prove as much. But giving up a single first-round pick to dump Deng beats stretching his salary across three years starting next summer. They’ll sleepwalk to more than $40 million in space by jettisoning his entire 2019-20 hit. Kawhi Leonard will be thrilled.”
In exchange for Luol Deng, the Lakers will acquire two veteran players, Zach Randolph and Iman Shumpert, whose contracts will be expiring after the 2018-19 NBA season. Randolph and Shumpert may only be considered as end-of-the-bench guys, but they could also be reliable contributors off the bench. Meanwhile, the deal will enable the Kings to give more playing time to their young players. The future draft picks will allow them to add another young and talented player who can help them speed up the rebuilding process.