Luol Deng didn't give up quite as much money as previously reported.
It still won't matter to the Los Angeles Lakers.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the final give-back total from Deng is $7.3 million, which will still leave the Lakers with $38 million to spend in free agency next summer. The buyout total was previously reported as $7.5 million.
The Lakers will use the stretch provision on Deng's contract, which will give him a cap hit of around $5 million from 2019-20 to 2021-22. They stretched Deng in order to open up enough space for a max-contract player while also not giving up draft capital to move him via trade.
The Lakers are expected to pursue a free-agent class that will include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson. LeBron James' presence gives the franchise renewed credibility following five straight years of missing the playoffs.
James and the Lakers are essentially agreeing to a punt year in order to put themselves in the best position for 2019-20. The Lakers have no real path to contention this season and are choosing to spend a year developing their young talent around James.
A year from now, the plan very well could pay off. Adding a superstar next to James and then flipping improved young assets for a third star could give the Lakers the type of core to finally unseat the Golden State Warriors.
Buying out Deng now was the first step in that plan.
Deng, meanwhile, played 13 minutes of basketball last season for the Lakers. He'll finish out his contract with the final three seasons paying him over $46 million for those 13 minutes.
Not bad work if you can find it.