The Los Angeles Lakers landed their free agent wing. Luol Deng has agreed to join the purple and gold on a four-year, $72 million contract, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical. The Lakers were very clearly in the market to add a veteran forward to their team and landed just that.
Deng, 31, should provide the kind of veteran leadership on and off the court a very young Lakers team could use. There are definitely reasons to be concerned about his long-term fit with the Lakers due to his injury history, age and contract length, but those things will have to be handled as the come. They locked up a wing who gives 100 percent on the court and isn't going to cloud up a leaderless locker room with noise.
The Lakers' $70 million in salary space continues to be chipped away, but they've addressed two definite roster needs at center and small forward with it. They can still make a move or two, but for now it looks like the big splashes are just about over.
Deng's played over 30 minutes per game for the last 11 seasons, notoriously playing huge minutes for Tom Thibodeau with the Chicago Bulls. He shouldn't be expected to take on a huge role like that with the Lakers, but he should definitely see close to the 30-minutes mark. He can be a valuable mentor for not only Ingram but the entire youth movement, and he's still a good basketball player despite the heavy mileage. Deng can also play either small or power forward, giving Luke Walton a versatile veteran player to scheme lineups around.
We'll have to wait on the final contract details to fully understand the structuring, similar to Mozgov, but lock up another $18 million per year of their cap space for the time being. The Lakers also reportedly had a similar deal on the table for Kent Bazemore, who went on to re-sign with the Atlanta Hawks.