Report: Lakers apply to exclude Luol Deng’s salary from cap/luxury tax

Former Lakers forward Luol Deng
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Lakers stretched Luol Deng in 2018 with eyes on landing another star in 2019 to complement LeBron James. Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all got mentioned.

Whether the move worked out is in the eye of the beholder.

Los Angeles opened an additional $13.81 million of cap space last offseason by stretching Deng.

The Lakers traded for Anthony Davis ($5,693,682 more expensive last season than the players dealt for him). They also signed Danny Green ($14,634,147 starting salary), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($8,089,282), Avery Bradley ($4,767,000), JaVale McGee ($4 million), DeMarcus Cousins ($3.5 million), Quinn Cook ($3 million) and Alex Caruso ($2.75 million).

Obviously, Los Angeles would’ve dealt for Davis – the key complement to LeBron in the championship run – regardless. But who knows which of those signings wouldn’t have occurred sans Deng getting stretched, let alone how much each mattered.

Regardless, the Lakers’ bill now comes due. Rather than just paying Deng’s original contract, which would’ve ended this season, Los Angeles will incur $5 million cap hits each of the next two seasons.

Or not.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Deng will get his remaining money regardless. The only question is whether it counts toward the salary cap and luxury tax for the Lakers.

Deng’s salary could be excluded if a doctor or panel of doctors (selected by the league and union) determine an injury suffered while he was with the Lakers “prevents him from playing skilled professional basketball at an NBA level for the duration of his career.”

The first big question: What injury?

Deng played only one game, the opener, in his last season with the Lakers. But that March, then-Lakers coach Luke Walton said, “He’s still really good at basketball.” Maybe Deng suffered an injury afterward or Walton’s words were untrue. But that statement looks like a major hole in the Lakers’ case that Deng was no longer healthy enough to play NBA-level basketball while with Los Angeles.

Another dent in the Lakers’ case: Deng sacrificed $7,455,933 in a buyout to leave Los Angeles. Maybe he was wrong to do that. He was definitely unhappy by the end of his tenure there. But that doesn’t seem like someone who thought he was finished as an NBA player.

Yet another element for the Lakers to overcome: Deng played 22 games with the Timberwolves the next season. At minimum, that indicates Deng didn’t suffer a career-ending injury with the Lakers. He wasn’t awful in Minnesota. Far from his peak, yes. But he wasn’t out of place on the court, either. He played at an NBA level.

However, those 22 games are not necessarily disqualifying for the Lakers’ application. If the league grants a career-ending injury exclusion THEN the player attempts to come back, he must play 25 games to negate the exclusion. But what if the player plays fewer than 25 games BEFORE the exclusion is decided? I see nothing in the Collective Bargaining Agreement covering this scenario. Logically, the 25-game test could still apply. But that’s seemingly open to interpretation.

So, Los Angeles’ request looks questionable at best.

But the upside could be significant.

The Lakers projects to land near the hard-cap line ($138,928,000)* next season. They could use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception $9,258,000)* rather than the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,718,000)* only if remaining below the hard cap. Deng’s $5 million cap hit could make the difference.

*Based on the salary cap remaining flat next season

Los Angeles could also easily pay the luxury tax next season and the following season. (Hello, Chris Paul trade.) Removing Deng’s $5 million cap hit would be welcome tax relief.

The Lakers could also open considerable cap space in 2021, even around LeBron and Davis. Dropping Deng’s $5 million cap hit could make the difference in whether a premier free agent joins Los Angeles that offseason.

There’s no harm in the Lakers trying to gain this extra flexibility. But don’t assume they’ll get it.

Watch Curry score 39, spark Warriors rally from 20 down to beat Pelicans


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Draymond Green yelled at the other bench, his own team and even his coach, and this time those intense emotions absolutely made the difference.

Steve Kerr loved it.

“We need his fire,” Golden State’s coach said.

“It was perfect, right, perfectly executed,” Green said with a grin.

Stephen Curry had 39 points with eight 3-pointers, eight rebounds and eight assists, Jordan Poole added 21 points with consecutive layups that gave Golden State the lead early in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors rallied past the New Orleans Pelicans 120-109 on Tuesday night in a testy, playoff-like matchup in late March.

Klay Thompson scored 17 and hit five 3s to set a new single-season career high of 278, which leads the NBA.

The Warriors moved up a spot into sixth place in the crowded Western Conference standings, a half-game up on Minnesota and 1 1/2 games ahead of New Orleans. Golden State lost 99-96 at home to the Timberwolves on Sunday, so coming back from 20 down to win this one was key as the defending champions try to avoid the play-in round. The top six teams are guaranteed playoff berths.

“We lost a heartbreaker the other night. We knew we had to bounce back,” Kerr said.

Brandon Ingram had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Trey Murphy III scored 21 points and CJ McCollum added 15 for the Pelicans, who came in riding a five-game winning streak.

Green chirped and pushed the emotions and physicality all game, then threw an alley-oop to Jonathan Kuminga for a dunk with 7:09 left for one of his 13 assists and a 101-98 advantage.

“Draymond willed us to victory tonight,” Kerr said. “His frustration early with the way we were playing. Mad at the world. Yelling at everybody, their bench, our bench, me, and frankly we all deserved it.”

Green was whistled for a double technical for tussling with Ingram late in the second quarter – and Green’s foul was upgraded to a Flagrant 1. He already served a one-game suspension March 17 at Atlanta for his 16th technical.

Green committed an offensive foul moments later and players for both sides tangled, Green’s feet getting caught up with Herbert Jones’ head. A replay showed no additional infractions but Kerr briefly took Green out with tensions running high because of his “extreme energy” in that moment.

“We looked dead those first 18 minutes of the game,” Kerr said. “We had to find some energy somewhere. I knew it wasn’t just going to come.”

Three straight 3-pointers by Curry late in the third got Golden State within 89-83. Poole then stole the ball from Ingram and dunked on the other end as the Warriors trailed 89-85 going into the final 12 minutes.

Golden State started the third on an 8-0 burst fueled by Donte DiVincezo. He made a putback dunk over Ingram early in the second half then a three-point play before Thompson’s 3 at 10:44 made it 63-54.

McCollum’s 3 with 1:40 left before halftime put the Pelicans up 60-43, then Ingram made it a 20-point game with a 3 New Orleans’ next time down.

The Pelicans, coached by former Warriors assistant Willie Green and longtime Golden State assistant Jarron Collins on his staff, had won five straight after a 124-90 romp at Portland on Monday night.

The Warriors’ victory prevented the Sacramento Kings, coached by former top assistant Mike Brown, their first playoff berth since 2006 that would end the worst drought in NBA history at 16 years.

Nowitzki, Wade, Gasol, Popovich reportedly headline Hall of Fame class


It will not become official until Saturday, but this is shaping up to be a legendary Hall of Fame class.

Dwyane Wade. Dirk Nowitzki. Gregg Popovich. Pau Gasol. Tony Parker. Becky Hammon. They are all in, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a deep class, and there was no question about any of those players’ Hall of Fame credentials.

Wade is one of the (arguably THE) greatest shooting guard in the history of the game, winning three rings as a member of the Miami Heat, plus making eight All-NBA teams and 13 trips to the All-Star game. Nowitzki is the greatest Maverick ever and the greatest European player in NBA history, an NBA champion and Finals MVP, plus he won the regular season MVP in 2007.

Popovich, the legendary coach of the five-time champion San Antonio Spurs — a team that won 50+ games 18-straight seasons with him at the helm, plus he coached Team USA to the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Parker was the point guard for much of that Spurs run, is a four-time NBA champion and was Finals MVP in 2007. Gasol is a two-time NBA champion, four-time All-NBA,and led Spain to the FIBA World Championship in 2006 and won three Olympic medals.

The Hall of Fame class will officially be announced on Saturday.


Draymond Green is good with facing Kings in first round — because of the travel


If the NBA playoffs started today, the Golden State Warriors would be in the play-in and host the Pelicans in the 7/8 game. Win that and they would hop on a more than three-hour flight to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies.

Draymond Green said on his podcast he is hoping the Warriors finish as the No.6 seed and dodge the play-in, then face the Kings to open the playoffs (which is how the standings stood 24 hours ago). Why? It’s a 90-mile drive to Sacramento.

“The reason why I said Sac is simply just because of the travel. That’s a lot on your body. If we can bus ride an hour and 10 minutes up the way, I just think that’s much better for us. At the end of the day, I don’t really care who we play in the playoffs, I think we can win.”

Green is not wrong about the travel.

While some teams may have looked at the top four in the West (Nuggets, Grizzlies, Kings, and Suns) and seen Sacramento as the obvious target, that plan could backfire. The Kings’ offense is diverse and elite, and they have the Clutch Player of the Year in De'Aaron Fox, and their building will be rocking like no other after the franchise has not been in the playoffs since 2006. In a West filled with flawed teams, the Kings winning a couple of rounds is well within the realm of possibility.

This could be the first year since the Kings moved to Sacramento that all four California teams make the playoffs (it is likely that all four at least make the play-in). The Kings are all but locked in to be the No.3 seed, while the Warriors, Lakers and Clippers are in the crowded field at the bottom of the playoff bracket where three games separate the No.5 and 11 seeds.

Bradley Beal reportedly under investigation after confrontation with fan who lost gambling

Washington Wizards v Orlando Magic
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

On March 21, Bradley Beal had an off game — 16 points on 4-of-15 shooting — as the Wizards fell to the Magic in Orlando.

Walking off the court, Beal got into a confrontation with a couple of fans, one of whom blamed him for a gambling loss. The next day that incident became a complaint filed with the Orlando Police Department by the fan. David Purdum of ESPN summarized the police report this way:

Beal and the Wizards were exiting the court and in the visitors’ tunnel, headed to the locker room, when, according to the police report, an unidentified man remarked to Beal, “You made me lose $1,300, you f***.”

Beal, according to the report, turned around and walked toward a friend of the man who made the comment and swatted his right hand toward him, knocking the man’s hat off and contacting the left side of his head.

Police reviewed video footage of the altercation and heard Beal say this is his job and he takes it seriously, and the man is heard apologizing, implying he did not intend to offend him, according to the report.

At this point, no charges have been filed against Beal. According to TMZ, Beal told the heckler, “Keep it a buck. I don’t give a f*** about none of your bets or your parlays, bro. That ain’t why I play the game.” The entire incident lasted less than a minute.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass said, “We are aware of the report and are in the process of gathering more information.”

Sports betting is not currently legal in the state of Florida.

While there is nothing official from the team, speculation abounds that the Wizards have shut down Beal and Kyle Kuzma for the season.