Tom Thibodeau continues to collect former Bulls in Minnesota.
According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, the Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to terms with free agent Luol Deng on a one-year deal after he was bought out by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Based on some previous reporting — and Thibodeau’s love for acquiring his ex-players — a lot of people saw this coming. Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, and Taj Gibson all play for the Minnesota Timberwolves after playing under Thibodeau in Chicago. Logically, Deng will be frontcourt depth, but it’s hard to envision the 33-year-old playing any sort of major on-court role for Minnesota.
It’s always sad watching once-great athletes enter the twilight of their careers. For sports fans, it feels like we’re losing a piece of ourselves. Father Time doesn’t discriminate, and though some athletes push the envelope into their 40s, we all sadly have a shelf life.
In the past two years, fans have seen notable figures like Tim Duncan, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce retire. Here are 10 well-known players who may follow in their footsteps in the next year.
10. Vince Carter
I sat down with V.C. on draft day to discuss his future, and at the time it was uncertain. He was waiting for LeBron to announce his decision so the rest of the league could react and adjust their free-agency plans accordingly. Once LJ finally did so, the Hawks scooped Carter, signing him to a one-year deal. Atlanta wanted “Carter around its young locker room,” per Woj. The 41-year-old will receive $2.4 million for the season — keep getting them checks! Carter is no longer the Vinsanity we all knew and loved, but he’s had a heck of a career, and he’s still a valuable piece. Last season, with Sacramento, he played in 58 games, averaging 17.7 minutes, 5.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 34.5 percent from beyond the arc. The former No. 5 overall pick (1998, Golden State Warriors) has now played for eight teams.
Tom Thibodeau’s mission to turn the Minnesota Timberwolves into Chicago Bulls West may be inching closer to fruition.
Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported on Saturday that the Wolves will monitor the situations of ex-Bulls Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, who are both buyout candidates. Krawczynski also adds that if they are indeed bought out, Minnesota would “certainly” consider signing one of them to a minimum deal.
Noah and Deng, both 33 years old, are hugely negative assets at this stage of their respective careers and possess two of the absolute worst contracts in the NBA right now. The former is still owed a horrendous $37.8 million over the next two years by the New York Knicks, and the latter is still owed an equally brutal $36.8 million over the next two years by the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, what matters here is that the two former All-Stars used to play in Chicago under Thibodeau, who has brought in an almost laughable number of his former Windy City players to Minnesota (a list that includes Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, and Aaron Brooks). At least one of those players might not be happy to hear this news though.
The Phoenix Suns will not be trading their No. 1 overall pick for Kawhi Leonard, but they may still be finding a way to factor into the proceedings.
Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic said this weekend that the Suns could get involved in a potential Leonard trade as a third team facilitator. Bordow goes on to add that a move they could make would be taking Luol Deng’s contract off the Los Angeles Lakers’ hands, provided that the Lakers attach one of their young players to the deal as well.
Deng, 33, holds what is widely viewed as the worst contract in the NBA right now: a four-year, $72 million albatross that is only halfway complete. Making matters worse is that Deng was basically a healthy scratch last season (playing in just one game all year), despite his entire salary being fully guaranteed.
Granted, some might argue that the contracts of New York Knicks big man Joakim Noah or Memphis Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons are worse. But it wasn’t too long ago that Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson literally laughed off a question about finding a taker for Deng’s deal, so the Suns could just be the Lakers’ manna from heaven here.
It’s a cold, cold world for Luol Deng. So cold that even his own team is laughing about how undesirable of a contract he has.
Magic Johnson met with the media on Thursday to discuss some of the Los Angeles Lakers’ trade deadline moves. He was asked a question about a Luol Deng trade and literally laughed it off:
Deng’s $72 million contract is among the worst in the NBA and has long been regarded as so bad that it’s nearly untradeable. The Lakers were able to get rid of the Timofey Mozgov contract by attaching D’Angelo Russell to him in a deal with Brooklyn, but they had nothing left to entice anyone to take Deng and gave up on trying to trade him months ago.
The Lakers will want to get rid of Deng at some point, which is why he’s on our list of potential buyout candidates. He also could be waived via the stretch provision.
The NBA trade deadline has passed, but we are far from the end of the player movement. It has become normal that a robust buyout market emerges after the deadline, as players who weren’t moved — or were moved to match salaries — are set free to sign with contenders for the minimum. These buyout players are valuable weapons for cap-limited teams in need of more depth.
Who will end up on the buyout market this year? Here are ten potential candidates of varying likelihood.
1) Derrick Rose, Jazz
Derrick Rose was sent to Utah as part of a three-way trade the Cavs made on deadline day. Reports have said he is likely to seek a buyout and receive one from the Jazz. If that happens, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been mentioned as a potential landing spot. He has great familiarity with his former coach Tom Thibodeau and ex-teammate Jimmy Butler, and is said to have interest in a reunion.
2) Joe Johnson, Kings
The Los Angeles Lakers would love to be able to trade away Luol Deng, but it does not sound like they even think that is possible.
Deng was signed prior to last season as part of a disastrous offseason by the front office. The Lakers signed Timofey Mozgov to a four-year, $64 million deal. They were able to move him by packaging him with D’Angelo Russell in a trade to the Nets. They also signed Deng to a four-year, $72 million contract, but they’re unlikely to find any takers for him.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on “Full Court Press” that the Lakers have essentially given up on the possibility of trading Deng.
“You talk to teams around the league, no one is bailing the Lakers out with Deng’s contract. They’re not,” Wojnarowski said, via Lakers Outsiders. “Teams have asked for multiple first-round picks. They’ve asked for Brandon Ingram. They’ll ask for Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers have essentially given up on the idea that they can trade Deng.”
Deng is still under contract for two more seasons after the current one at around $18 million per season. That’s a lot of money. The Lakers could waive him via the stretch provision, but the bottom line is they have a bad contract on their hands that they are unlikely to get rid of via a trade.
The Los Angeles Lakers continue to admit that their offseason was one big L.
According to a report by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN on Wednesday, the Lakers will also make forward Luol Deng a healthy scratch for the remainder of the 2016-17 season to open up more playing time for their younger players.
Deng, who will turn 32 next month, was averaging 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds on a career-low 38.6 percent from the field in 26.5 minutes per game this season. The Lakers gave him a four-year, $72 million deal this past summer, which was wildly imprudent for a number of different reasons.
The news come just one day after another overpaid Lakers veteran was reportedly shut down for the season as well. Shelburne also adds that both players were comfortable with the decision after meeting individually with head coach Luke Walton over the last few weeks.
Deng hadn’t played since February 26, and now that he’s out of the picture completely, the Lakers can funnel the minutes he’s leaving behind towards the development of 19-year-old rookie forward Brandon Ingram and (to a lesser extent) 24-year-old sophomore Larry Nance Jr.
Luol Deng shared his perspective on Donald Trump’s travel band as a proud refugee.
Last week, Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning refugees from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia from entering the United States. As a result, there were widespread protests across the country over the weekend.
Deng is himself a refugee. He was born in South Sudan and moved to the U.S. at the age of 14. For the now 31-year-old, the news hit extremely close to home. On Monday, Deng posted a powerful message to his Twitter account, giving his perspective as a refugee and offering his support to “refugees and immigrants of all religions.”
Deng has carved out a very nice career for himself since being drafted No. 7 overall in 2004. He was twice an all-star while with the Bulls and has averaged 15.1 points and 6.2 rebounds over 13 years in the NBA. More importantly, Deng is one of the many who have been able to make a better life for themselves because of the ability to seek opportunities elsewhere.
The Los Angeles Lakers were willing to overpay to get their man this past summer, and it looks like that’s exactly what they did.
According to a report by Zach Lowe of ESPN on Thursday, the Lakers outbid the Washington Wizards by $20 million for then-free agent forward Luol Deng’s services over the offseason. The Wizards apparently had made progress on a three-year deal with Deng but were “stunned” when the Lakers extended a four-year, $72 million offer that Deng ultimately wound up taking.
In retrospect, the Wizards are probably glad the Lakers bit the bullet for them as the 31-year-old Deng hasn’t exactly been aging like a fine wine. He’s averaging a career-low 8.0 points to go along with 5.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game this season on a putrid 39.0 percent shooting from the field. Deng’s defense, one of his biggest historical strong suits, has also badly regressed — he ranks just 29th amongst small forwards in defensive box score plus-minus, behind the likes of Boston Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown and 39-year-old Paul Pierce (per ESPN).
Meanwhile, Washington has reaped the benefits of a major Year 4 leap from Otto Porter Jr. and a solid all-around contribution from Markieff Morris, their two starting forwards. Deng wasn’t the only free agent fish that the Wizards failed to reel in this past summer, but they probably aren’t kicking themselves for letting him get away, especially at that absurd price.
Image via Luol Deng on Instagram