NBA denies Lakers’ career-ending injury exemption application on money owed to Luol Deng, per report

In 2018, the Los Angeles Lakers used the stretch provision to waive Luol Deng and spread the remaining $15 million owed to him over three seasons. That created short-term cap space that they could use in the 2019 offseason as they pursued superstar free agents, but it also left $5 million of dead money on their books for the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. The Lakers wanted that money off of their books altogether, so they applied for a career-ending injury exemption from the NBA in order to do so. The NBA has now rejected the application, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania

Luol Deng holding a basketball

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That was always the expected outcome, as we explained in more depth at the time of the application. For an exemption to be granted, a team has to prove that the player in question suffered a career-ending injury while playing for

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Lakers reportedly want career-ending injury exception on Luol Deng’s salary, but are facing an uphill battle

Luol Deng hasn’t played for the Lakers since Oct. 19, 2017, but for the next several weeks, he is perhaps the single most important player to their offseason plans. The Lakers signed Deng to a four-year, $72 million contract in 2016. In 2018, they used the stretch provision to waive that contract and spread the remaining cap hit over several years. The Lakers still owe Deng $10 million, which is split into $5 million increments over the next two seasons and is guaranteed to be paid to Deng no matter what, but according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Lakers have requested a career-ending injury application in the hopes of clearing that money off of their cap sheet. 

Why does that matter? There are two major reasons, one for each of the next two offseasons:

  • If the Lakers want to use the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception on a free agent this
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