Last summer the Los Angeles Lakers made the decision to sign Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng to massive four-year contracts. Now as the new regime looks to clear out room for two maximum contracts next summer, those deals are a major impediment.
The Lakers were able to get out of Mozgov’s contract, shipping him to the Brooklyn Nets, but it cost them D’Angelo Russell. Trading away Deng would cost the Lakers a similar promising young piece such as Brandon Ingram, who the Lakers do not want to give up just for the sake of cap space.
The other option for the Lakers would be to stretch Deng’s contract. If they planned on doing so, they have only until August 31 to do so for it to include this season’s salary according to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus:
The deadline to stretch Deng’s full $54 million is August 31. The Lakers would still owe him his salary but Deng would be paid over the next seven seasons at $7.7 million per year. After August, Los Angeles cannot stretch Deng’s salary for the 2017-18 season, but they can spread his final two seasons ($36.8 million total) at $7.4 million over five.
Pincus adds that by waiting to stretch Deng’s contract, the Lakers would give themselves a little bit more cap space:
Stretching Deng would clear almost $10 million from the team’s salary cap next summer. By waiting until after the deadline this month, the Lakers would gain roughly $352,000 of additional spending power.
The Lakers are unlikely to stretch Deng before this upcoming deadline as they would be better served trying to find a way to trade him. If they are unable to, there is no harm in keeping him on the roster for this season and then stretching him next summer if they are able to bring in two players like they hope to.
The Deng and Mozgov deals were ill-advised when they happened and now they have made things even more difficult for the Lakers moving forward. However, there are still ways around it and the franchise will be sure to figure out the best one.