Luol Deng Says Role with Lakers Not What He Wanted

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2017

Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng (9) walks toward the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

Luol Deng has appeared in one game for the Los Angeles Lakers so far this season, and it's safe to say that's not what he envisioned when he signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the Purple and Gold in July 2016.

"I really was really excited about the opportunity that I was given financially and also looking forward to playing for an organization like the Lakers," Deng said Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times' Tania Ganguli.

"I just know that for me, I never really [took] the contract and said I just want to shut it down, I just don't want to do anything."

Deng added he has no regrets over inking the lucrative deal because his intention was to join the club as a key contributor.

"What I was told, and what I wanted to be, was to play and help on and off the court, not just off the court," he said.

Deng's comments come two days after he told's Ramona Shelburne his camp was trying to negotiate a trade or buyout.

"The only answer for me now is to prove myself away from L.A," Deng said. "I'm not asked to play, I'm not in the rotation, so I can't prove myself here."

If Deng wants to expedite his exit from Los Angeles, a buyout figures to be his best bet since he has three years and $54 million remaining on his contract, including an $18 million salary next season and $18.8 million the following year.

Needless to say, it's hard to envision a team willingly eating those cap figures just to give a 32-year-old who's played more than 30,000 career minutes a shot at cracking its rotation.

But if Deng is willing to sacrifice money for freedom, a buyout could afford him a shot to latch on with a contender at a far cheaper rate.