Luol Deng Rumors: FA Drawing Interest, Still Expected to Sign with Timberwolves

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2018

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

Veteran free agent forward Luol Deng has "drawn interest" from teams around the NBA but is still expected to sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Deng, 33, agreed to a buyout with the Los Angeles Lakers earlier in September that gave him $29 million of the $36.5 million he was due over the final two years of his contract, making him a free agent in the process.

Deng played sparingly for the Lakers in his two seasons in Los Angeles, appearing in 56 contests in the 2016-17 season before playing in just one game last year. He averaged 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in his time with the Lakers, as the team largely gave his minutes to younger players.

And with the Lakers seeking to trim cap space to be major players in next summer's free agency as they look to build a title contender around LeBron James, Deng's departure was inevitable. 

But Deng is still a two-time All-Star who averaged 12.3 points a game for the Miami Heat in the 2015-16 campaign before signing with the Lakers. While Deng is a role player at this point in his career, he's one who provides solid defense and the ability to contribute on the offensive end, even if he's never been a particularly effective perimeter shooter (33.2 percent from beyond the arc for his career).

Deng would give the team a versatile forward who would help upgrade the team's defense. He also has familiarity with head coach Tom Thibodeau, whom he played under during his time with the Chicago Bulls. Unlike in Los Angeles, Deng could carve out a solid reserve role in Minnesota.

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