DENG WON’T SINK INTO LAKERS MESS

Luol Deng believes he can help lead the Los Angeles Lakers back towards respectability following his summer switch west.

The former Great Britain forward, who signed a four year, £58 million, deal in the summer, faces the arduous task of joining a team that hit rock bottom last season with just 17 wins as the Kobe Bryant era in LA came to an ignominious end.

And they’re likely to be terrible again.

But Deng, twice an All Star during his lengthy spell with Chicago Bulls, remains buoyant about his decision to move to the Lakers from the Miami Heat.

“I’m very excited- it’s a great organisation and franchise, I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to play here,” he said. “In my career, I’ve played for a lot of great teams, but to add this to the list of teams that I’ve played for is really exciting, which is why right now I’m working very hard. I know that the last three years we’ve missed the playoffs and struggled, but again, I’m very excited to work with the young players and to try to bring the team back to where they used to be.”

That figures to be a work in progress, even with the addition of veteran Spanish guard Jose Calderon and a vibrant young coach in Luke Walton.

“The last three years have been very tough for the Lakers, so I think the best thing about it is the challenge to get back to the winning mentality,” Deng said. “The city and the team understand where we are as a club so it’s about making strides forward.

“In the NBA it can take a lot of time, but the fans appreciate hard work and appreciate results. We’ve got to take every game and show how competitive we can be as a team.”

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

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