First, the Lakers gave old-school center Timofey Mozgov $64 million. Now this, via Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has wanted Deng for years (remember he was part of the talks back in the “Kobe Bryant to the Bulls” trade conversation many years ago), now he got his man. There is a good fit here, Deng played the four for Miami last season (after Chris Bosh was sidelined) and thrived, but is a traditional three so Luke Walton can plug him in as needed. He was solid at both ends of the court (although his skills are in decline at age 31), plus he’s loved by teammates and a rock solid guy in the locker room.
This is a solid signing, he’s the kind of professional the Lakers need in their young locker room. The Lakers had to pay a premium to get him, but that’s where the Lakers are right now — they are not a destination (as evidenced by their attempts to land elite stars). The Lakers need to build a solid foundation that can win some games. Deng helps that. Los Angels may well regret the final year of this deal when Deng is 35, but that is the price the team needed to pay to land him.
If the Lakers had made this signing right after free agency started and not the Mozgov deal it would have been much better optics for the franchise.