Veteran forward Luol Deng reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Lakers on a four-year contract on July 2.
On Thursday, the Lakers announced the news and shared a picture of Deng signing his new contract:
Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers
Making things official! Welcome to the purple and gold, @LuolDeng9!! https://t.co/VscOtf9CP92016-7-8 00:34:04
Deng has been a master of versatility across his 12 seasons in the NBA, including the past two years with the Miami Heat. While he's rarely posted monster numbers during stints with the Heat, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, he's remained a key cog in the rotation.
Ethan J. Skolnick @EthanJSkolnick
Luol Deng's reported $18 million per year from Lakers is twice what most thought he'd get before he flourished as a 4 after All-Star break2016-7-2 12:45:44
The 31-year-old Duke product averaged 12.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists across 74 games for the Heat last season. But the most telling moment of the campaign came in the playoffs, when he found himself playing center at times after an injury to Hassan Whiteside.
After Miami's playoff run came to an end against the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Deng talked about hoping to stay with the organization despite his pending free-agent status, per Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald. He also understood the business side of the situation, though:
At the end of the day, I try to play the best that I can play, be the best player I can be and hear what everyone has to say and listen to teams. But for me, it's always about being comfortable, being in an organization and around people that really appreciate the things that I do. I think the financial part is what you discuss when you go into that room.
Add in the fact the Heat had several other free-agent situations to navigate, led by Dwyane Wade and Whiteside, and Deng's status became a question mark.
In the end, Deng decided the Lakers represented his best chance to make an impact. While it's not the type of signing that will drastically change the team's outlook for next season, he does represent a valuable depth addition. ESPN.com's Arash Markazi noted the Lakers' interest in Deng dated back nearly a decade:
Arash Markazi @ArashMarkazi
The Lakers reportedly asked for Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Ben Gordon and Joakim Noah as the core of any trade for Kobe Bryant back in 2007.2016-7-2 12:53:26
The Lakers have spent their fair share of cash this offseason.
They agreed to give center Timofey Mozgov $64 million over four years, per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. And according to Charania, they re-signed shooting guard Jordan Clarkson on a four-year, $50 million deal.
Assuming both Mozgov and Deng end up signing their deals July 7, the Lakers have committed $136 million on a past-his-prime Deng and a defense-only center in Mozgov, though Doug Gottlieb of CBS Sports sees a method to the madness:
Doug Gottlieb @GottliebShow
#Lakers now betting that their next star(s) are already on their roster (Ingram,Russell)2016-7-2 12:35:29
The Lakers needed to do something to upgrade their roster this summer.
They weren't going to lure any huge free agents because the team isn't built to win now. The pressure is on Brandon Ingram, D'Angelo Russell and/or Julius Randle to become stars, though a stable veteran presence like Deng can help the transition.