Luol Deng’s Huge Contract Is a Smart Gamble for the Los Angeles Lakers

Luol Deng agreed to a four-year, $72 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday morning. It’s a smart gamble that gives the Lakers legitimate talent in a position of need. But it also fogs up their long-term cap sheet and supports the notion they’re content on sitting out next summer’s free-agency bonanza.

According to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, Deng talked to a few other teams before taking an exorbitant amount of guaranteed money—in a deal that won't become official until July 7—from a club that can’t promise anything else: 

Deng had significant discussions with several teams, including the Washington Wizards and Utah Jazz, before committing to the Lakers, sources said. ... For the Lakers, Deng will provide versatility and an ability to shoot, slash and make plays. Deng has a solid reputation on and off the court, serving as a steady professional.

One of the most illustrious franchises in NBA history, the Lakers can't secure pitch meetings with top-tier free agents. Signing Tier B or C options is also difficult without paying through the nose. Deng is 31 years old and may soon embark on the least productive four-year stretch of his career. 

But that doesn’t mean this acquisition is without merit. For a team that’s packed with impressionable young talent, Deng provides a priceless splash of veteran leadership. He’s a smart, unselfish professional who works hard on both ends and can fill multiple roles.


Deng Fits the Bill

With $72 million coming to his bank account, there’s no need for Deng to feel antsy about securing another payday. He won’t go out of his way to steal shots and touches from D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram.

Ideally, he’ll guide and support them in ways, both on and off the court, that are beneficial t...

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