NBA free agency: Each team’s worst signing in franchise history

Eddy Curry, New York Knicks, Ben Wallace, Chicago Bulls. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Eddy Curry, New York Knicks, Ben Wallace, Chicago Bulls. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Luol Deng, Los Angeles Lakers
Luol Deng, Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Worst free agent signing in Los Angeles Lakers history: Luol Deng

4 years, $72 million

The Los Angeles Lakers are, at the time of writing, poised to make waves in the Western Conference. After missing the playoffs for the sixth straight season (after missing just six times total in the rest of franchise history) LeBron James and Anthony Davis should drive them into the postseason.

To truly compete, the team will need to add players in free agency, a step complicated by the $5 million still on their books after waiving and stretching Luol Deng.

Next summer, they will have another $5 million on the books, and the summer after that as well. Just as the Lakers are preparing to contend, they have to do so weighed down by the dead weight of Deng’s contract.

After playing 10 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, the team traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014. After finishing the season with the Cavaliers he signed with the Miami Heat for a relatively tame two-year, $20 million deal. The end of that deal saw the Heat fight their way to the second round of the playoffs with Deng playing extremely well for the Heat.

Los Angeles decided that Deng had only grown more valuable as the years went on, giving him a significant raise on his 2015-16 salary in signing him to a four-year, $72 million contract early in 2016 NBA free agency.

The Lakers made a swing at staying competitive in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s retirement, and they largely struck out. Along with fellow 2016 signee Timofey Mozgov (four years, $64 million) Deng barely moved the needle towards winning.

Deng appeared in just 57 games for the Lakers before he was permanently shut down. Last offseason, he agreed to give some money back to the Lakers in order to get on a different team and earn minutes. Even departed, however, the decision to overpay Deng — and for four years — is actively hurting the Lakers as they try to assemble a contender.