To say Luol Deng’s contract is a point of contention among Los Angeles Lakers fans is an understatement along the lines of “Kobe Bryant is pretty popular in the greater Los Angeles area”.
He’s currently going on the second year of a four-year deal worth roughly eleventy billion dollars and had most fans wondering if he was actually alive for the first part of the year.
This season was by no definition a success, and he seems intent upon changing that heading into the summer. To his credit, Deng has handled the season very professionally and continues to do so with his assessment of the situation.
He mentioned in a piece by the Los Angeles Daily News’ Mark Medina that he’d have more success at power forward than he’s had at small forward, which is actually a factual statement.
In that same piece, the topic of the Lakers’ impending personnel changes came up and, once again, Deng was very forthcoming about what it might mean for him.
“I believe there will be a lot of changes,” Deng said. “When changes happen, if I’m one of the changes that happen early, clearly I can’t see myself with any input on how I would fit in. But if I’m one of the late guys to be moved, I can always look at the team and have a discussion if we both agree we fit in better.”
The two topics are entwined.
Deng does fit better at the four — we have two years of sample size on this. Issue is: The Lakers currently employ Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr., who both fit better playing the position and are parts of the Lakers’ long-term plans. This is also without even mentioning Brandon Ingram, who could challenge him for his starting spot at the position he’s worse at anyway.
If Magic Johnson or Rob Pelinka could move Deng’s deal, they would probably jump at the opportunity, showcasing athleticism Deng rarely did this season. Teams will not, however, be lining up to bring on that albatross of a contract.
So in all likelihood, Deng will have to work his tail off and prepare himself for a couple positional battles many will be watching incredibly closely. There’s a lot going on here.