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Los Angeles Lakers Finally Finish Paying Luol Deng After 6 Years, He Signed A 4-Year, $72M Contract In 2016

Los Angeles Lakers Finally Finish Paying Luol Deng After 6 Years, He Signed A 4-Year, $72M Contract In 2016

In 2016, the Los Angeles Lakers were facing an extremely uncertain future. After 20 years, they were getting ready to build a roster without Kobe Bryant. Considering the Lakers brand requires the team to be competitive, the front office decided to sign former All-Star Luol Deng to a four-year, $72 million contract.

The team would regret this decision almost instantly, as Deng would be benched completely later in the season to give minutes to Brandon Ingram. He played just one game of the 2018 season and would have his contract bought out as the Lakers made cap space to sign LeBron James in the 2018 off-season.

When Deng's contract was bought out, the Lakers set up payment for the same to Deng in over $5 million increments every season. While that was tolerable in 2018, 2019, and even 2020, as the Lakers made it work to win a championship. However, the cap-strapped Lakers finally got the Deng contract off the books yesterday.  

The fact that Luo Deng was paid more than Austin Reaves, Carmelo Anthony, and Malik Monk combined is an extremely worrying issue that highlights the multiple errors the Lakers have made over the last few seasons. 

Deng is a mistake that pre-dates LeBron and their efforts since his signing, but the fact that they have been paying for the same player for 6 years and he hasn't played in 4 is incredible. The Brooklyn Nets found themselves in a similar situation a few years ago with the contract of Timofey Mozgov, another contract the Lakers gave after Bryant retired. The Lakers moved Mozgov to the Nets alongside D'Angelo Russell.

Getting $5 million extra to spend this off-season will probably be counter-acted with Russell Westbrook opting into his $47 million contract this season, but at least the Lakers will stop paying for a player that has been retired since before the Lakers won a championship two seasons ago.