Why Los Angeles Lakers Should Pursue Luol Deng In 2014 Free Agency

It wasn’t that long ago that Luol Deng was on everybody’s wish list. Now, he’s just another name in this summer's free-agency class.

But while rainbow chasers fantasize about LeBron James opting out of his contract with the Miami Heat, pursuing Deng is the kind of reality play that could pay nice dividends for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 6’8” small forward wouldn’t break the bank and is just the kind of skilled two-way player needed to complement a recharged Kobe Bryant as he launches into a two-year contract extension and, most likely, the end game of a legendary career.

Lakers management won’t be alone if they target the two-time All-Star, however. Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News recently pointed to Deng as a smart target for the Dallas Mavericks:

I think you go to somebody like that, he gives you things that you need because I don’t think that Shawn Marion’s coming back. This is a guy who is a good small forward, a good two-way forward, he plays defense. This is like a younger version of Marion that you’d be getting here. I think it’s absolutely imperative they get a guy like that. You probably wouldn’t have to give him a max contract and I think that he’d be perfect.

And yet, while there are plenty who praise Deng for his lockdown defense and locker room leadership, he’s not getting above-the-fold billing as July 1 approaches—the first day that teams can officially approach free agents.

In fact, Chris Sheridan for Sheridan Hoops has Deng languishing at No. 12 on his top 25 free agents list.

Has Deng’s game really degraded all that much? Looking at the stats, you wouldn’t think so. His 16 points-per-game average this season exactly mirrors the average for his 10-year career.

Born in South Sudan, Deng and his family moved to Egypt during the ...

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