Players > Retired > Luol Deng
Luol Deng
SF/PF - 6'9, 237lbs - 39 years old - 15 years of NBA experience
Retired - Retired after 2019 season
  • Birthdate: 04/16/1985
  • Drafted (NBA): 7th pick, 2004
  • Pre-draft team: Duke
  • Country: South Sudan/Britain
  • Hand: Right
  • Agent: -
2004 NBA DraftNBADrafted 7th overall by Phoenix.
2004 NBA DraftNBADraft rights traded by Phoenix to Chicago in exchange for the draft rights to Jackson Vroman (#31), a 2005 first round pick (#21, Nate Robinson) and cash.
16th July, 2004NBASigned four year, $10,652,099 rookie scale contract with Chicago. Included team option for 2007/08.
24th October, 2006NBAChicago exercised 2007/08 team option.
31st July, 2008NBARe-signed by Chicago to a six year, $71,060,000 contract.
6th January, 2014NBATraded by Chicago to Cleveland in exchange for Andrew Bynum, a 2015 second round pick (#53, Sir'Dominic Pointer), a 2016 second round pick (#48, Paul Zipser), a protected future first round pick (became a 2017 second round pick, #38, Jordan Bell) and the right to swap 2015 first round picks (not exercised).
15th July, 2014NBASigned a two year, $19,866,076 contract with Miami. Included player option for 2015/16.
29th June, 2015NBAExercised 2015/16 player option.
7th July, 2016NBASigned a four year, $72 million contract with L.A. Lakers.
1st September, 2018NBAWaived by L.A. Lakers.
10th September, 2018NBASigned a guaranteed one year minimum salary contract with Minnesota.
Career Moves
2003 - 2004Duke (NCAA)
June 2004 - January 2014Chicago Bulls (NBA)
January 2014 - June 2014Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
July 2014 - June 2016Miami Heat (NBA)
July 2016 - September 2018L.A. Lakers (NBA)
September 2018 - presentMinnesota Timberwolves (NBA)
Articles about Luol Deng

September 4, 2018

We suggested last week that Deng could be a buyout-and-stretch candidate for the Lakers as early as this Saturday, and it came to pass that that is exactly what happened. We further proffered that, if he were to be a free agent, Deng might be of interest to the Houston Rockets. Maybe he will be. Yet it seems also that the Minnesota Timberwolves are interested (inevitable, considering Tom Thibodeau's love of what he already knows), and GiveMeSport has also learned that the Toronto Raptors have expressed an interest as well. It appears, then, as though Deng will not remain a free agent for long.

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August 29, 2018

In the summer of 2016, the L.A. Lakers, armed with cap room, tried to make a free agency splash. They signed centre Timofey Mozgov from the Cleveland Cavaliers to a four year, $64 million contract, and followed it up with signing Luol Deng from the Miami Heat to a four year, $72 million deal.

They then almost immediately changed plans. Both players got out to slow starts and then never really sped up; in their first seasons, Mozgov averaged only 7.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 54 games (52 starts), while Deng averaged 7.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 56 games (49 starts). Designed to be veteran help alongside D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson, the pair both struggled to get going throughout and recorded career-worst years.

The Lakers shifted their direction pretty much immediately after this. They revamped the structure and personnel of their front office, and opted to up their standards when it came to the players they were pursuing. In the midst of an uncharacteristically long playoff-less streak, the team decided, explicitly, to target only the game's very best in free agency. No more Mozgovs.

It worked this summer when they signed LeBron James as a free agent. But to do so again next year may require freeing themselves of Deng's contract.

Earning $18 million this season and $18.81 million next, Deng's contract vastly outweighs his performance. Indeed, as of last season, there was no performance. After starting him in the first game of the season but playing him for only 13 minutes, the Lakers had another quick rethink and benched Deng for the young forward quartet of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Julius Randle and (until the trade deadline) Larry Nance Jr. Despite being ostensibly in good health, Deng never played another minute all season, consigned to the bench for the sin of being too old, married to the team for the sin of being too expensive to divorce.

The Lakers clearly do not want Deng at this price, and have been quite overt in pursuing their options to move his contract, free up cap space and acquire more stars. They did this already with Mozgov, moving his deal with formerly highly touted prospect Russell to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the pick that became Kuzma, in a deal that looks to be heavily in the Lakers' favour after the LeBron signing (especially since Kuzma is every bit the prospect that Russell is, if not better). But there has been no such deal available for Deng.

There are myriad factors in play as to why that is. In part, because others teams in the league know of the Lakers' intent, the few teams that are willing and able to take on Deng's deal are also able to leverage that fact and demand a high price from the Lakers in return, clearly with prices prohibitively high for a deal to take place. (This is the downside of the Lakers making it so well known how committed they are to targeting stars in free agency. The upside is that it worked with LeBron.) Theoretically, the Lakers could move Deng for another of the big 2020-expiring salaries. But to do so gains them nothing, and so Deng remains.

In part, the wider tightening of league spending given all the oversized contracts out there means there is less money to spend, and in a year of greater salary prudence, teams have to be more judicious, just like the Lakers are trying to be. Further to this, with so many teams already having one big unwanted salary of their own, they cannot afford a second no matter the sweetener.

But for the most part, it is because Deng is not wanted as a player any more.

Since his heyday, Deng has been on a steady decline as an NBA player. His heyday was excellent - without ever having explosive speed or a rangy jump shot, Deng was a triumph of guile, awareness and IQ, a strong mid-range shooter who cut, rolled, dove and ran to the rim where he could, contributed on the glass, and stood out defensively with his reads and discipline. He only twice cracked the All-Star level, but he was very close to it for a long while.

However, with some injuries in his past, Deng has an awful lot of miles on his body clock. He has combined 14 long NBA seasons (including some long postseason runs) with heavy international duties for Great Britain (for which we will forever be grateful), and famously played a very large portion of the available minutes in those 14 seasons, health permitting. Averaging nearly 39 minutes per game for the Chicago Bulls in the four season stretch between 2009 and 2013 seemed to take it out of him; in subsequent stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat, the still-wily Deng had lost a step, and in his first season with the Lakers, he had lost two.

One cannot know for sure Deng is unwanted as a player overall, however, only that he appears to be unwanted at that price. A player's salary determines their value, but not their ability. The true test of whether he would be wanted as a player would be to see what would happen were he a free agent again. And perhaps he soon will be. [...]

(lots more at the link)

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June 29, 2017

Luol Deng
SF, 6’9, 220lbs, 32 years old, 13 years of experience

It’s a really old 32. Deng’s usage is down, his efficiency way down, his defence increasingly ineffective, and only the rebounding sustained. Never hugely athletic, Deng is now one of the slowest small forwards in the game, yet a move to power forward does not create a mismatch any more either. Never a spot-up shooter, Deng does not readily fit into an offence designed for such, and nor can he do his own work off the dribble any longer. This is therefore a strange mix of player and team. And it is also a very expensive one, so he'll be back.

Player Plan: Three years and $54 million remaining, with no option years involved. This contract is going to prove to be the one that is the obstacle to the 2018 free agency aspirations. And given his much declined play, it will cost assets to get rid of it. However, it will cost fewer assets the closer to expiring it is. There is no rush to move it this summer; try and redeem some value first, then move it later on.

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January 5, 2014

The idea of a one-club man is a romanticised ideal in sports, yet one increasingly impossible to achieve in this heightened free agency era. Even Paul Pierce eventually got traded. However, it does occasionally happen, and Luol Deng is one of the few true veterans in this league to have spent his whole career with one team. Indeed, the only players to have been with their current teams longer than Deng has been with Chicago are Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Nick Collison, the Miami duo of Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade, and the Spurs trio of Parker, Ginobili and Duncan, while Jameer Nelson and Anderson Varejao are the only other 2004 draftees to have never left the team that first signed them. This kind of longevity, then, is rare - usually, one party is sufficiently disgruntled with the other by now to have moved on.

Things haven't always been plain sailing between Deng and Chicago. The contract which is about to expire was only arrived at in the first place via an ugly and terse negotiations period, while injury-related strife - most notably the Bulls's failure to diagnose a broken leg - has sullied the waters at times. Nevertheless, the Bulls declined this trade supposedly on account of their desire to re-sign Deng. They are said to really, really want that.

This desire to keep Deng is tough to reconcile alongside the news that extension talks are dead. Nonetheless, it seems genuine, if only because it is so logical. Deng is a quality player on the court, a player who makes the most of limited natural ability, and an absolute favourite of Tom Thibodeau on account of his reliability, defensive versatility and high IQ play. These are all things the Bulls prioritise more than most. They are right to want to keep him.

[more at the link]

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July 15, 2010

[Eric] Boateng will play for the Great Britain national team this summer, but mainly others won't. Joel Freeland and Ben Gordon just dropped out this week due to injury, and earlier, Robert Archibald had also pulled out. Nick George and Andy Betts have also pulled out, leaving the team with almost no quality left on it, and its chances of qualifying for Eurobasket 2011 in tatters.

This is why Luol Deng is so unbelievably freaking important to us. He is now our everything.

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June 14, 2010

Most Bulls offseason plans out there involve finding ways to trade Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich. The duo have been with the Bulls for a combined 13 years - it's hard to get your head around that sometimes - and yet part of the reason why they're still here are their contracts. The duo are good players, good citizens and decent young veterans, yet they're also overpaid. Walding's contract, directly negotiated by Jerry Reinsdorf, is a year too long and about $3 million annually too much. He's a fine player, averaging 18/7 with good and versatile defense at the age of only 25 - however, he's paid to be a second option when he's really a third one, a non-athlete without much of a dribble and a tendency to miss games due to injury. So despite his talents and deferred salary, he's still slightly overpaid. We understand that.

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May 8, 2010

[...] The difference in talent between Ben Gordon and those incumbents is roughly equal to the difference between the eruption of Krakatoa and a termite farting. By putting together a lineup of Gordon/anyone/Deng/Pops/Archibald, with Freeland and Bryan-Amaning off the bench, Britain are now able to compete with any team; it matters not who the 'anyone' at two guard is. (It would be nice if it was Kelenna Azubuike, who was born in London; however, he is not eligible for a British passport. His parents were not in the country legally at the time of his birth, and Azubuike's passport application was turned down in 2007. It's a shame, because he's the missing piece.)

That lineup is still flawed; after five years of watching Ben Gordon occasionally masquerade as a point guard for my Chicago Bulls, I am left in no doubt that he isn't one. He dribbles too high, shows no obvious ability on the pick and roll, has little passing vision, and just isn't that good at getting the ball over halfcourt every time. The team ideally needs someone that can do that. (Kirk Hinrich is the obvious candidate, but he's cup-tied after having played for Team USA back in 2006. And it might also factor that he has no British heritage.)

Gordon is, however, a bloody fantastic shotmaker. And this can't be underestimated on a team that used Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Jarrett Hart as go-to guys down the stretch of their game versus Spain. With Gordon, Britain would probably have won that game. With Gordon and Deng, they definitely would. The transition of British basketball from humiliating to competitive has been very short and very sweet. It is largely because of Deng, to whom we owe a fantastic debt that we can never repay.


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