On Monday, news broke that Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng had requested to be traded or bought out so he can pursue other opportunities.
Deng hasn't seen the court for the Lakers since he made an opening-night start and played 13 minutes, so it's not surprising that he would want to go somewhere that he could get more playing time.
However, with his massive contract, it will be hard for Los Angeles to move him, but it's something the team should seriously consider doing ahead of next offseason, when the Lakers anticipate making some big additions to the roster.
Deng's request should spark the Lakers into action, but not just in regards to him. There are several players the team should consider moving.
From young players who won't have a place on the team next year to expensive veterans who won't be back, there are some moves the Lakers could make before the February trade deadline to set themselves up for the future.
Here are three players the Lakers should trade before too long:
As mentioned above, Deng has a massive contract (three years at $17 million a year), so he'll be hard to find a suitor for.
However, if the Lakers entice a team with a young asset and a draft pick or two, perhaps Deng could find a place on a rebuilding team, where he could possibly be bought out.
Getting rid of Deng's contract will be huge for a team that wants to sign players like Paul George and, perhaps, LeBron James next summer. Having all that extra money will be the difference between adding two star players and three star players.
This will be much tougher than trading Deng, as Clarkson has emerged as a valuable bench player, averaging 15.1 points per game as the Lakers' sixth man.
However, if the Lakers make as many moves as they anticipate on the free agent market next summer, Clarkson won't really have a place on the team anymore.
The bad news is that if the Lakers are going to get out from under Deng's massive contract, Clarkson will likely have to be included in the deal, meaning Los Angeles won't be getting as much in return for the talented guard as it could otherwise.
Lopez is only on a one-year contract, but the Lakers likely won't be able to keep him beyond this year if they sign a couple of big free agents this summer.
Therefore, while it will be hard to move his massive $22 million salary, a team like the Milwaukee Bucks could be an interesting option. Should the young Bucks become serious playoff contenders, it might make sense for them to send Greg Monroe (also in the last year of a big contract) to Los Angeles, along with a future draft pick.
If the Lakers make one or two big signings, their cap space will take a major hit, so they'll need some controllable young assets to fill out their bench.
Trading Lopez for an expiring contract and a future pick would be a good move for the Lakers, and there's no reason to wait until February to do it.