The NBA has decided to deny the Los Angeles Lakers’ appeal to remove Luol Deng’s salary off their cap sheet, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The team filed an appeal for an injury exception in October for the forward whose contract was waived and stretched in 2018. Deng played 22 games during the 2018-19 season for the Minnesota Timberwolves but has not played in the NBA since.
For the Lakers’ this means that they will have five million dollars of dead money on their cap sheet through 2022. While an approved appeal would not have changed the franchise’s obligation to pay the veteran forward, it would have removed that number from their cap sheet, giving them more flexibility to continue building their championship-contending season.
The decision will not have any bearing on this year’s roster as the team has enough flexibility to sign the maximum number of players to veteran minimum deals. However, if the appeal had been approved before the signing of new center Marc Gasol, the Lakers may have been able to complete it without trading JaVale McGee.
The Lakers will mainly be operating as an over-the-cap team for the foreseeable future, pending Anthony Davis’ decision on a new contract with the franchise, so Deng’s dead money does not have a major impact on what they hope to accomplish. However, it’s just one additional small obstacle they will have to keep in mind for the next offseason, which comes with the extra layer of LeBron James’ player option. Deng’s contract will be completely off the books in 2022-2023. The Lakers only have Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s partially guaranteed contract and Alfonzo McKinnie’s non-guaranteed contract (as well as dead money for Jordan Bell who was waived and stretched) on the books that season, pending the soon-to-come decision from DAvis.