A recent rumor began to heat up again, as it was reported that impending free agent Luol Deng is ‘on the radar’ for the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. Though many fans have already assumed this as a possibility, it is certainly encouraging to have it reiterated since the Lakers are amidst an absolutely brutal season.
GM Mitch Kupchak was just extended yesterday to a multi-year deal, after suggesting Los Angeles will be patient in pursuing any free agents earlier this season. Yes, he’s basically hinting at the idea of waiting for Kevin Love to hit the open market in 2015. And yes, this also means one more year of mediocrity for a franchise that has struggled mightily for two straight seasons to compete.
Fans have barely been able to bear watching the team this season, so not improving the team whatsoever this summer may mean a heavy influx of Los Angeles Clippers fans in the near future. Los Angeles cannot afford to lose more fans, television ratings, etc. So, going after a player like Deng makes some sense. He will not demand too steep of a salary, but will produce on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor. Deng would be a perfect compliment to Kobe Bryant as he can just about defend all five positions.
A current member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Deng is almost a guarantee to bolt this summer. Cleveland has been a disaster all season long, so there is really no reason he would have any desire to re-sign when he is likely to receive multiple offers in the offseason. Deng has been rumored to be interested in a possible return to the Chicago Bulls, however it appears as if the team does not have the same feelings. Basically, the door to making this move is wide open.
If the price is right, Los Angeles must by all means sign him. With an almost guaranteed top six pick in this year’s draft, signing Deng will only expedite the rebuilding process as the Lakers have the opportunity to acquire a potential star rookie as well. I’ll say one thing, no matter how many ties Love has to the city of Los Angeles, he is not going to have any desire of going there if there is no supporting cast. Making this move will not only improve the Lakers’ chance at signing Love, but it will also keep the team competitive while waiting for the next superstar to arrive.