But he doesn’t regret signing the four-year, $72-million deal the Lakers offered him in the summer of 2016.
“I really was really excited about the opportunity that I was given financially and also looking forward to playing for an organization like the Lakers,” Deng said.
“I just know that for me, I never really [took] the contract and said I just want to shut it down, I just don't want to do anything. I’m still working as hard as I can trying to figure it out and trying to be the best player I can be. It was never, let me go and relax and not do anything. That was never the case. So I don't regret it at all.”
Deng began his Lakers tenure as the team’s starting small forward. He was removed from the starting lineup Feb. 6 for Brandon Ingram and didn’t play again after Feb. 26.
Deng thought things would be different this season. But after starting in the season opener, taking minutes that opened up because of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s suspension, Deng was benched. He has been inactive for most of the games and is out of the rotation.
None of it matched his expectations upon signing with the Lakers.
“What I was told, and what I wanted to be, was to play and help on and off the court, not just off the court,” Deng said.
He told the Lakers after training camp that he wanted to be traded or bought out. Deng declined to say how much money, if any at all, he would be willing to give up for the sake of a buyout.
Luke Walton monitors Lonzo Ball
Lakers coach Luke Walton spoke with rookie point guard Lonzo Ball before Wednesday’s game to check in on the rookie’s mental state. Ball’s brother, LiAngelo Ball, was one of three UCLA players questioned by police in China over an alleged shoplifting incident at a Louis Vuitton store.
“Generally, I just like talking about things with the guys,” Walton said. “It’s important to me to always remember there’s a human element to what we do. That’s part of being a coach, is helping — especially when you have a young team like we do — is helping young guys through situations. I don’t think this will affect him that much, but it could. So I’ll make sure that I talk to him and if he needs anything in any situation we’ll be there for our guys.”
When: Thursday, 4 p.m. PST
On air: TV: Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330
Update: The Wizards are 5-5 and have a losing record at home. They’ll be out for revenge after losing to the Lakers in overtime at Staples Center this month.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli