After their removal from the starting lineup, the Los Angeles Lakers are expected to move Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng before the February 23, 2017 deadline. However, an ESPN analyst suggested the Lakers should include one of their young assets to move either Deng or Mozgov.
“Of course, the Lakers will listen to any and all offers for Mozgov and Deng, though they shouldn’t expect to hear any unless they are willing to package them with one of their younger players such as Ivica Zubac, Larry Nance Jr. or one of the three former lottery picks,” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne wrote.
In the recent offseason, the Lakers gave Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng lucrative contracts amounting to $136 million over the next four years. As Shelburne reported, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak didn’t let Mozgov hear alternative offers from other NBA teams. As the free agency hit, they signed him to a four-year deal worth $64 million.
Unlike Mozgov, Deng heard offers from other teams but none of them gave him a contract that extended beyond three seasons. The 31-year-old small forward really planned to stay in Miami but the Lakers’ offer was too good to resist. In their first season in Los Angeles, Mozgov and Deng failed to show what’s expected of them when they signed the lucrative deals.
On Monday night, coach Luke Walton decided to change his starting lineup and demoted both veterans to the bench. Brandon Ingram and Tarik Black earned the starting role. The Lakers plan to use the final months of the 2016-17 NBA season to prioritize the development of their young core.
Last month, David Aldridge of NBA.com revealed that Lakers president Jeanie Buss has been told multiple times that Mozgov and Deng were not good enough to get the job done. Some people close to Buss told her that “those two signings were not strong enough signings.”
Mozgov and Deng’s contract will be a major problem for the Lakers
Mozgov and Deng could still provide guidance to the young players. However, the contracts they signed prove to be a major problem for the Lakers. Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, and Ingram will soon become eligible for lucrative extensions. Unless they make a move in the offseason, Mozgov and Deng’s contract will affect their financial flexibility until 2021.
As the trade deadline draws near, the Lakers should start finding a team willing to accept Mozgov and Deng. However, as Shelburne notes, they need to sacrifice at least one of their young players to move either veteran out of their team.
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