The unsurprising next shoe to drop: Luol Deng.
The Los Angeles Lakers have effectively shut down healthy veterans Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov for the rest of the season to give the majority of playing time over the final 15 games to the team’s younger players, sources told ESPN.
Rather than play sporadically, sources told ESPN that Deng and Mozgov were comfortable with the decision to shut it down for the rest of the season after meeting individually with coach Luke Walton over the past few weeks.
While sources said the Lakers could revisit the situation with either player before the end of the season, the plan right now is for both to remain inactive.
When the Lakers wanted to win earlier the season, Deng and Mozgov contributed little. Now the Lakers want to lose, Deng and Mozgov have no place on the active roster.
Will Deng and Mozgov ever actually help the Lakers achieve the team’s active objectives?
Eventually, the Lakers will shift from tanking into trying to win. But, by then, Mozgov (30) and Deng (31) could have aged past reasonable production – generously granting that they haven’t already.
And that’s ignoring the opportunity cost of Deng (three years and $54 million left on his contract after this season) and Mozgov (three years and $48 million). The Lakers could have surely spent that money better.
At this point, a reasonable hope is that Deng or Mozgov help even a moderate amount at any point.