Disgruntled Deng wants buyout or trade from Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers veteran and two-time NBA All-Star Luol Deng is seeking an exit after growing frustrated by his lack of playing time.
Deng has only played in one game this season and as a result, the 32-year-old said he has been working with the Lakers on either a trade or a buyout.
The former Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat forward has two years and $36million left on his contract after this campaign, making him difficult to trade considering he is coming off a career-low 7.6 points per game last season.
Deng's lack of role for the Lakers became glaring when forward Larry Nance Jr. broke a bone in his left hand last week and instead of adding the British-Sudanese player to the starting line-up, Los Angeles went with rookie Kyle Kuzma.
"It definitely hurts," Deng told ESPN. "But the only answer for me now is to prove myself away from L.A. I'm not asked to play, I'm not in the rotation so I can't prove myself here.
"Most of these young guys don't understand the business of basketball, so if I come in here and I'm angry every day, I'm taking something away from them. I have to be smiling, I have to be in the best mood I can be in, because they're living their dream of being an NBA player."
Deng started the first 53 games last season before the Lakers shifted gears, focusing on their young talent around the trade deadline.
Head Coach Luke Walton told ESPN what his message to Deng has been.
"We have a really young group that we're trying to grow together and get as much opportunity as possible," Walton said. "I know that that's not obviously the ideal situation for you or what you signed up for; I have compassion for that. What we need out of you is to be a really good vet, to be a leader in the locker room and be a mentor to these guys, because a lot of them look up to you."
Deng has been inactive for nine of the Lakers' first 10 games, but said he is going to be "patient." However, after playing 13 seasons in the NBA, Deng is not used to his current role in Los Angeles.
"I've always given it everything. Every single team that I've played for, every single person would tell you that I've given it everything every single day," Deng said. "That's the toughest part for me because I'm so used to competing and giving it everything. I'm also used to not doing great and turning it around. My whole life, every time I've been down, I've found a way to turn it around."