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Report: Lakers request NBA to get Luol Deng’s $5 million salary through 2022 off books

Luol Deng, Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers still owe the recently retired Luol Deng $5 million for next season and 2021-22, and they’re hoping to get that money off the books in order to create a bit more financial flexibility moving forward, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Specifically, the Lakers are requesting “a career-ending injury application” to get Deng’s money off the books:

In 2016, Deng signed a four-year, $72 million contract to play for the Lakers after a previous stint with the Miami Heat. The Lakers signed the two-time All-Star along with big man Timofey Mozgov to lucrative contracts in a bid to remain competitive after Kobe Bryant’s retirement.

In February 2017, a new tenure was instated in Los Angeles with Lakers great Magic Johnson becoming the organization’s president of basketball operations. Former head coach Luke Walton eventually benched Deng and started prized rookie Brandon Ingram instead.

Deng missed the final 22 games of the season after being shut down in March to give more playing time to the team’s youngsters. His almost non-existent role on the court carried over to the next season, where he only played a single game in the 2017-2018 season. The veteran was waived and stretched by the Lakers after reaching a buyout agreement in September 2018.

A week later, Deng signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves, which reunited him with former members of the Chicago Bulls in head coach Tom Thibodeau, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, and Jimmy Butler. Deng played 22 games for the Timberwolves in the 2018-19 season before calling it quits.

Should the Lakers’ appeal be approved by the league, it will give the franchise more flexibility in the upcoming offseason as they look to retool their championship roster. It’s unclear how the NBA may rule in this case because of the unique circumstances:

We’ll have to wait and see what the NBA decides.