The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of work to do this offseason in order to get back into contention in the Western Conference. Kobe Bryant missed most of this past season due to injury, and is very unhappy with the way that the Lakers played. If the Lakers want to make their franchise player and superstar happy, they will have to make some moves in free agency to bring the team back to a competitive level in a hurry.
One name that many analysts believe that the Lakers could end up targeting on the free agent market is small forward Luol Deng. Deng is coming off of an up-and-down year that was split between the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. He simply couldn’t find his groove in Cleveland, and ended the year playing some of the worst basketball of his career.
Why would the Lakers be interested in signing Deng? There are two very good reasons that the fit would be a good one for both sides. First of all, the Lakers need to improve themselves on the defensive side of the basketball, and that is exactly what Deng brings to the table. Secondly, he is a very underrated offensive player, and would be a nice addition to help relieve stress from Bryant and the rest of the Lakers’ scorers.
Deng played in 63 games this season between the Bulls and Cavaliers, and started in all of those appearances. He averaged 16.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game, but those numbers were lower because of the 23-game stint that he had with the Cavaliers. His defensive ability has been noted throughout his entire basketball career, and he has thrived guarding opposing teams’ best players.
There is absolutely no question that the signing would make sense for the Lakers. They are trying to make some serious upgrades, and Deng would fit the type of veteran player that Bryant wants the Lakers to bring in. Kobe simply doesn’t have much time left to compete for another championship, so the Lakers need to make some big moves in order to give him the best chance to lead them to the promised land once again.
Overall, it won’t be very surprising at all if the Lakers are in serious talks with Deng fairly soon after free agency opens. They understand the situation that they are in, and they know that the only way to get out of it soon is by spending money. Deng is looking for a place that he can compete and be a big piece for his team, and the Lakers fit that bill for him as well.
Evan Massey is a Staff Writer for HoopsHabit.com. Follow Evan on Twitter at @Massey_Evan.