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Luol Deng Is The 5th Highest-Paid Player In The Lakers Roster Despite Not Playing Since 2017

Luol Deng Is The 5th Highest-Paid Player In The Lakers Roster Despite Not Playing Since 2017

There was a time when Luol Deng was highly touted around the NBA. He was a tough defender and a guy who could knock down big shots, a fierce competitor, and a hard-working teammate.

Deng was one of the biggest fan favorites in Chicago. But ever since he left the Chicago Bulls, his career took a bit of an expected downfall.

He wasn't as young, would play in a different system, and the league was changing at the time, so it wasn't safe to expect his usual production anymore.

Even so, the Lakers signed Deng to a 4-year, $72 million contract back in 2016, hoping he could bring in some veteran leadership to a team craving some changes with Kobe Bryant out of the picture.

Of all those 4 years, Deng played a grand total of 57 games. He started 56 games before Luke Walton benched him in favor of Brandon Ingram, and then played in next season's opener. That was it.

Even so, the Lakers still had to pay him. They used the stretch provision to spread the final $15 million of his contract over 3 years, with Deng giving back roughly $7.5 million in a buyout.

That meant the Lakers would continue to pay for Deng's salary (even when he was free to sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves) through the 2021-22 campaign. 

Notably, Deng will still be the 5th highest-paid player in the Lakers roster, trailing just Russell Westbrook ($44.2 million), LeBron James ($41.2 million), Anthony Davis ($35.4 million), and Talen Horton-Tucker ($5 million), according to HoopsHype.

That right there might as well be one of the worst contracts in NBA history. Notably, that's the same Lakers' front office who gave Timofey Mozgov a 4-year, $64 million contract, so maybe money-management wasn't their forte at the time.