Even amidst their encouraging growth this season, there's a cloud hanging over the Los Angeles Lakers. Or perhaps you could say it's two clouds, in the form of the two bloated free-agent contracts they handed out this summer.
They helped set the market with their curious hair-trigger signing of center Timofey Mozgov, in which they seemingly bid against themselves in giving him a four-year, $64-million deal on the first day of free agency. The four-year, $72-million contract they doled out to aging swingman Luol Deng looks even worse, especially given the margin by which they reportedly trumped the next-best offer.
The Washington Wizards were nearing a three-year deal with Deng worth $20 million less than what the Lakers ended up giving him, a development that "stunned" the Wizards, sources told ESPN's Zach Lowe.
The Wizards are likely grateful now. If the Lakers' overpay wasn't bad enough at the time, Deng's performance in the first year of that deal has made it all the more regrettable in hindsight. Perhaps worn down by several heavy-workload seasons (only six players have played more total minutes since 2009), the 31-year-old has gone into steep decline. He's averaging eight points and 5.4 rebounds this season, with career lows in true shooting percentage (46.7) and PER (11), while his once-elite on-ball defense has eroded significantly.
With the Lakers on the hook, with no opt-outs, until 2020, this decision doesn't look like it will age any better than Deng has.