Despite the acquisition of LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers are not yet done in improving their roster. 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 NBA superstars like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins, and Kemba Walker.
Acquiring one of those players will surely increase the Lakers’ chance of winning an NBA championship. To create a salary cap space for a maximum free agent, one of the Lakers’ priorities between now and the 2019 NBA free agency is to get rid of Luol Deng and the remaining two years and $36.8 million on his contract. Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report suggested that the Lakers could engage in a trade deal with the Atlanta Hawks involving Deng and Jeremy Lin before the February NBA trade deadline.
“Jeremy Lin makes $13.8 million in the final year of his deal this season, and a straight-up swap involving him and Deng works because the Hawks have ample room under the cap. L.A. would have to attach an asset, and it might even have to be a first-rounder, which might make less sense than simply buying Deng out. But this is still a deal that could benefit both teams. L.A. gets more spending power for 2019, the Hawks continue to stink and pile up picks, and everybody’s happy.”
The deal will be beneficial for both teams if the Lakers attach a future first-round pick in the trade package. As most people think, it is the only way the Lakers can convince the Hawks to trade Jeremy Lin for Luol Deng. Losing the veteran point guard and absorbing Deng’s contract will be worth it for the Hawks if they could acquire a future first-round pick that could help them speed up the rebuilding process.
The Asian-American guard can be a reliable contributor for the Lakers off the bench, and his ability to play as a point guard and a shooting guard will make him a great mentor for L.A.’s young guards like Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. What makes Jeremy Lin a more valuable acquisition for the Lakers is that his contract is about to expire after the 2018-19 NBA season. This will put the Purple and Gold in a better position to chase for another superstar who can play alongside LeBron James in the 2019-20 NBA season.