Lakers Trying to Exclude Luol Deng’s Salary from Salary Cap

Luol Deng in 2012. Photo by Matt West/Shutterstock (8474920k)

Back in 2018, Los Angeles Lakers released Luol Deng and stretched the salary they owed him in multiple instances through 2022. No one can dispute that this wasn’t a good decision, as the salary cap space they opened allowed Lakers to sign key players for this year’s NBA title run. However, stretch provision is now coming back to haunt them.

Deng’s original contract would be over after this season if the Lakers opted to remain patient. Because they didn’t, the organization is now on the hook for $5 million in each of the next two seasons despite the player being retired for more than a year.

This is why the report from The Atheltic’s Shams Charania about Lakers’ attempts to find a solution for this situation isn’t all that surprising.

According to Charania, the Lakers argue that Deng had a career-ending injury and have made an application to have his salary removed from their books because of this. In this case, the player would still receive his money, but the salary wouldn’t be counted towards their salary cap or luxury tax.  

There is a long way from here to Lakers actually getting the exception, considering that a panel of doctors must confirm that Luol Deng suffered an injury that prevented him from playing basketball professionally while with the franchise. However, in case they manage to prove this, the upside would be huge.

The organization would be able to stay under the hard cap and avoid paying a luxury tax if Deng’s $5 million is removed from their books. This would open the possibility of adding another key player using the non-taxpaying exception that lands at around $9.2 million in 2020/21.