Not only did the Lakers fire their head coach Frank Vogel this week, they finally stopped paying Luol Deng’s salary. The last official match the forward played for the club was in October 2017, and his contract concluded in the summer of 2016, has long become a meme.
One of the greatest drafts in NBA history took place in 2003. The future league superstars were picked – LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Also noteworthy are Kirk Hinrich, David West, Josh Howard, Mo Williams and Kyle Korver. The Sudanese Luol Deng, who was considered to be at the same level as James during his school days, could also have been in this draft. But unlike LeBron, he decided to follow the classical path, accepting the offer of Duke University. At 18, he played more than 30 minutes on the court for the Dukes, averaging 15.1 points and 6.9 rebounds. That is a fantastic result for a forward in the NCAA. Luol was first in scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage among the rookies of his division.
In the 2004 draft, Deng could have easily gotten into the top 3, but due to more promoted schoolboys, he was number seven. This did not prevent him from building a solid career, but he never became a superstar. For many years in Chicago, the forward was in the shadows of Ben Gordon and then Derrick Rose. When Rose was injured, Deng finally had an opportunity to be a full-fledged leader (in the 2012/13 season and the first part of the 2013/14 season), but he was already past his prime years.
On the other hand, while Luol was in the club, it finished the season at the regular stage only once. The regular season was won twice by the East. The highest result in the playoffs was the conference final with Miami under the leadership of debutant coach Tom Thibodeau. Overall, Thibodeau was the best coach in Deng’s career. With this specialist, the forward became more confident with his long-range shot and also became the best in the league by the minutes played per game (MPG) in the 2011/12 season. At around the same time, Luol got into the second-best team of the defenders, and next year he played in his only All-Star Game (he was selected for a second all-star weekend but could not participate because of injury).
In the middle of the 2013/14 season, Chicago traded Deng to Cleveland in return for centre Andrew Bynum (he never made it to the Bulls) and draft picks. The Ohio club anticipated the return of LeBron James and was losing game after game. In the summer, Luol became a free agent and replaced James in Miami. There, he unlocked his potential as a power forward and was very close to leading the Heat into the finals of the East. But in the seven-game series, the team lost to Toronto. Back then, Deng was regularly in the starting five, averaging 13.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in 35 minutes in the playoff games. Thus, you can see that sometimes players’ games can change significantly – bear this in mind when placing bets on basketball.
In the summer of 2016, the Lakers needed Deng and spared no expense, signing a four-year guaranteed contract for $72 million with the 31-year-old forward. During the same off-season, the Lakers signed Timofey Mozgov (a four-year contract for 64 million). Both veterans were supposed to strengthen the positions in the frontcourt, but in reality, they brought little benefit. The Lakers earned a penultimate place in the 2016/17 season, and in the summer, Mozgov and Deng were forced to change teams. The general manager Mitch Kupchak, who held this post for 17 years, also lost his job for these signings.
The co-owner and president of the Lakers, Jeanie Buss, was indignant and questioned why did Kupchak and the head coach, Luke Walton, give Deng and Mozgov such big contracts. According to her, she didn’t understand what they were thinking and decided that their philosophies were too different.
After leaving California, Deng played only 22 games for Minnesota (and one game for Chicago), while Mozgov played 31 games for Brooklyn. This was the end of their overseas careers. But while the Russian player received money from Orlando for two years contract,
Deng continued to receive huge money from the Lakers for a long time. In the 2017/18 season, he earned $17.2 million; in the 2018/19 season – $14.3 million. The remaining amount on the contract was split up over three seasons, which helped to free up space on the payroll (there was also $7.5 million that Deng turned down). The forward received his last paycheck from the Lakers only in April 2022.
Throughout his NBA career, Deng has earned about $160 million. At the same time, he’s always been very successful with investing and is considered one of the wealthiest players in history. From his early years in the NBA, Luol invested his money into real estate. Moreover, he did not buy apartments but hotels and apartment buildings.
In 2017, Luol found a gold mine. The new US tax law allowed to invest in the so-called O-zone funds – zones of opportunity. These are low-income areas in every state. Investor profits are not taxed, and there are no limits on how much money you invest and how much tax you can avoid. There are about nine thousand designated areas in different states. As a result, Deng and Derrick Rose invested in the construction of 23 buildings in the O-zone in Chicago. Deng explained this with his love for real estate and a long-existing desire to do something for Chicago.
He made successful investments in real estate in East Africa and London, bought private houses in the Hamptons, several apartment buildings in Baltimore, owns a hotel in Las Vegas and a luxury resort in the Bahamas. The former basketball player works together with
a former Wall Street banker David Gross, who helps him to run the business successfully. They met in 2014 via a mutual friend while Gross was attending Columbia University, studying for a master’s degree in property management. Gross suggested Columbia University create a certification program for athletes and artists who invest in real estate. The university turned down the idea, and Gross partnered with Deng and signed a contract with The National Basketball Players Association.
In 2019, Gross and Deng set up another company with the rapper Nipsey Hussle. The idea was that stars who have worked their way to the top from the bottom would invest in the non-priveledges areas where they were from. The partners decided to start in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles, where Hussle was born. However, a few months after the agreement was made, the rapper was shot dead. The tragedy happened in the afternoon in one of the districts of Los Angeles, in the parking lot of a shopping centre owned by the musician.
Nevertheless, Gross and Deng continued this project, building more than ten six-story residential buildings for low-income citizens. In the coming years, businessmen intend to continue investing in real estate development in the O-zone in Cleveland, Miami, New Orleans and Philadelphia. In addition, last year, Deng became one of the investors in NBA Africa, where the African Basketball League (BAL) was launched and tried on the role of the head coach of South Sudan in the AfroBasket qualification.
When Deng was young, his family was forced to leave Sudan because of the civil war. Transiting through Egypt, they ended up in the UK, and at the age of 14, Luol moved to the United States to pursue his basketball dream and develop his talent. Now his fortune is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars. Perhaps he will earn a billion dollars even earlier than LeBron. If you want to earn as well, have a look at the casino selection presented on our website.