The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to make personnel changes this summer as preparation for the 2017-18 NBA season. Veteran forward Luol Deng expressed his willingness to have a discussion with the Lakers about his uncertain future with the team.
“I believe there will be a lot of changes,” Deng said. “When changes happen, if I’m one of the changes that happen early, clearly I can’t see myself with any input on how I would fit in. But if I’m one of the late guys to be moved, I can always look at the team and have a discussion if we both agree we fit in better.”
The 2016-17 NBA season becomes the worst season Luol Deng ever played since being drafted the 7th overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft. In 56 games this season, Deng posted career-lows 7.6 points and 38.7 shooting percentage. With Deng’s failure to live up to expectations in his first year in Los Angeles, will the Lakers trade him this summer?
Why the Lakers find it hard to deal Luol Deng?
As most people think, Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka will welcome any offer for Luol Deng in the upcoming offseason. Deng will be a great addition to a playoff team. Unfortunately, his existing contract will make any team think twice before making a move.
Last summer, Deng signed a four-year deal worth $72 million with the Lakers. Giving the 32-year-old small forward a lucrative contract was the decision of former Lakers executives Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak. The move makes sense if Deng is still in his prime.
However, his last season with the Miami Heat proved that he’s not already a player who deserved a long-term deal. If the Lakers want to move him, they will likely sacrifice at least one of their young players. As of now, the only thing they can do is to maximize what Deng can do for the team.
Luol Deng wants to play at power forward next season
Deng admitted having a hard time making himself fit on coach Luke Walton’s system. He revealed that he’s more comfortable playing at power forward than the small forward position.
“The 3 is more of a spot-up position for a lot of teams. I think I struggle with that,” Deng said. “I have to find a way, and I think Luke agrees, to get back to moving and being involved in screens. That’s where I really perform best. I have a knack for rebounding. A lot of times at the 3, you have to get back to balance the floor.”
Deng talked to Walton about the role he wants to play next season, provided that the Lakers won’t trade him this summer. Walton reportedly agreed to grant his request but Deng will need to battle for the position against Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.
Photo courtesy: nikk_la/Flickr
Video courtesy: Youtube/Lakers Nation