Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng is not a happy camper (at least on a basketball court). Since signing a preposterous 4-year $72 million deal two years ago, Deng has not seen much action. In fact, he has appeared on the court 57 times with the Lakers – 56 of those in his first year with the team.
He played 13 minutes last season, making well over $1 million per minute.
Now, at the age of 33, Deng wants an opportunity to play. I want to play, I want to be a part of something,” Deng tells IOL’s Stuart Hess while out in Johannesburg for the NBA Africa Game. “But I’m not going to be a part of a place where you don’t believe in me. I’m not trying to knock down anybody, but I play for people who believe in me.”
“I’ve taken every opportunity since day one and proven myself, I’m not going to sit here and give you the right answer, I’m going to be honest about it, for me, if the respect and appreciation is not there then I’d rather be elsewhere,” Deng says.
The Lakers have a gluttony to talent in the front court with the signing of LeBron James and young promising players like Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. Even veteran Michael Beasley is a better play than Deng. There is simply no room for the 14-year veteran. Even Lakers President Magic Johnson has joked about difficult it is getting another team to take on the $36 million Deng is still owed.
“They can say whatever they want, I know I can play the game, they see me at practice every day,” Deng added. “If it was a game thing then come out and say it, but the honest truth, it’s the decision they made.”
Luol Deng has career averages of 15 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He was is a member of the 2011-2012 All-Defense team and has played in two All-Star Games.