The 20 worst free agent signings in NBA history

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls NBA (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls NBA (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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#7. Luol Deng: 4 years, $72 million

Luol Deng spent the first decade of his career in Chicago, playing on several good Bulls teams. He was then traded to the Cavs and later signed with the Heat. There, he played well enough to earn a big 4-year, $72 million contract in the summer of 2016 from the Los Angeles Lakers.

While he was meant to help the Lakers post-Kobe Bryant, he instead proved to be a financial albatross. He was quickly overtaken in the rotation by Brandon Ingram and barely played in his first season in Los Angeles. Ironically, that was the high point of his Laker career.

He played the first game of the following season before being benched for the remainder of the year. In the summer of 2018, Deng’s remaining two years of his contract were stretched and waived. That allowed the Lakers to spread out his owed money over five seasons instead of two.

It also allowed him to sign elsewhere while still being paid by Los Angeles. In total, the Lakers paid out $65.3 million to Deng, who played just 23 games. That essentially amounted to $2.83 million per game. Things ultimately worked out for the Lakers. Waiving him helped clear space to sign LeBron James. Nice save, but the Deng contract was a foreseeable misstep that set the team back financially.