Originally signed to a four-year, $72 million deal by the Los Angeles Lakers prior to the 2016-17 season, Luol Deng only appeared in 57 total games over two seasons.
All but one of those games came during Deng’s first season with the Lakers. He started in the opener of the 2017-18 campaign but then was relegated to the bench as the team prioritized development of the young core.
A separation appeared inevitable, and that came at the turn of the calendar to September. The Lakers and Deng agreed to a buyout and he was waived via the stretch provision.
Upon clearing waivers and becoming a free agent, Deng has signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Free agent Luol Deng has reached agreement on a one-year, $2.4M deal with Minnesota, pending physical, per league sources.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 10, 2018
By signing with the Timberwolves, Deng will be reunited with head coach Tom Thibodeau, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. During their time together, the Chicago Bulls were one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and they will look to duplicate that success with Butler being the only All-Star player at this stage of their careers.
As for the Lakers, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka can finally move past Deng’s and Timofey Mozgov’s contracts signed by the previous front office.
Although the NBA’s new television deal impacted decisions for most teams, their production on the court simply did not match up to those contracts. In limited action, Deng averaged 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 26.3 minutes.
With the 33-year-old forfeiting a reported $7.3 million in the buyout, this officially turns the Lakers’ two-year window into a reality.
They are now projected to have $38 million in cap space for 2019 free agency and are targeting Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.