The Los Angeles Lakers officially waived Luol Deng, making him a free agent who is eligible to sign with any team. Terms of the agreed upon buyout were not released by the team.
“We want to thank Luol for his time with the Lakers,” general manager Rob Pelinka said. “We made this move to further our further salary cap and roster flexibility, as we continue to build this Lakers team according to our current overall vision.”
During this past season the Lakers reached similar agreements with fellow veterans Andrew Bogut and Corey Brewer. Bogut returned to his native Australia, while Brewer signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder in time to remain eligible for the playoffs.
The decision with Deng was largely expected, with the only question being when the two sides would agree to part ways. He had two years and $36.8 million remaining on a four-year, $72 million contract signed with the Lakers as a 2016 free agent.
Prior to the Lakers officially announcing the roster move, it was reported the buyout was a component to the stretch provision being used. As such, Deng will remain a factor in their salary cap space for five years.
They nonetheless are now in position to sign a max-contract 2019 free agent, when the class may include the likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson, among others.
He averaged 7.6 points and 5.3 rebounds while appearing in 56 games (49 starts) in his first season with the Lakers. However, Deng saw his role severely diminished last season, starting Opening Night and never taking the court again.
There was some consideration to giving him minutes down the stretch of the 2017-18 campaign as the Lakers roster was ravaged by injuries. But a conversation with the front office and head coach Luke Walton was said to have led to a mutual decision to keep Deng inactive.
During an appearance abroad for the NBA Africa Game, Deng voiced his frustration over the situation and made it clear his preference was to be with another team if the Lakers weren’t going to afford him an opportunity to play.