Lakers forward Luol Deng is trying to move on from Los Angeles.
The team’s third-highest paid player and his agent have confirmed they’re working with the team to try and facilitate a trade or buyout that would allow him more playing time after he started the season with the Lakers racking up DNP-CD’s.
It won’t be easy for Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to move Deng’s gargantuan contract given his modest production even before his lack of playing time, which could mean he’ll linger on the team’s roster for a while as the front office searches for workable destinations or negotiates a buyout.
A buyout would save the Lakers money but would not affect the cap hit of Deng’s contract.
While such a situation could have the potential to be awkward, Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton said things have been fine with Deng via Bill Oram of the O.C. Register:
Luke Walton said Luol Deng’s public desire to be elsewhere has not been a distraction for Lakers. “Me and him are good,” Walton said. If it starts to negatively impact team Lakers will address that then.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) November 8, 2017
Walton’s comments fit with Deng’s reputation as the utmost professional, and there is no reason to assume he will act otherwise even while publicly voicing his desire to play elsewhere.
Deng is a veteran, and while he could serve a purpose for the Lakers as simply a veteran mentor, his contract and talent (justifiably) are likely giving him the desire to be more than that while he feels he still has solid basketball left to play.
For now Deng is on the Lakers, though, and even though he wants to move on to another team or enter free agency after being bought out, it sounds like both parties are making the best of a bad situation.
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