Worst free agency signings in NBA history: 20. Luol Deng, Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are entering their final season of one of their more forgettable free agent signings in their history. Back during the 2016 NBA free agency period, after failed attempts at luring Paul George and other stars, their final choices became forward Luol Deng and big man Timofey Mozgov.
Deng was believed to be the veteran scorer the Lakers needed with a young core of Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle to develop. He signed a four-year, $72 million deal during the 2016 NBA offseason after successful seasons with the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat.
He made two NBA All-Star appearances with the Bulls, though they came back in 2012 and 2013, while averaging 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game across 10 seasons. With the Heat, he averaged 13.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest across 146 appearances.
His age at 31 wasn’t an issue at the time for the Lakers front office, but 38 games into the season he began to show signs of wear and tear. He appeared in just 56 games during his first year with Los Angeles, producing just 7.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, while nursing an Achilles’ injury.
During the 2017-18 NBA season, he attempted to make a comeback from the injury, but he managed to appear in just one game all season long, while the Lakers posted a 35-47 record. Following the season, halfway through his deal, he was waived by Los Angeles in a potential buyout.