The Miami Heat lost Luol Deng when he agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, according to a report by Yahoo.
Deng was an unrestricted free agent and was considered unlikely to return to the Heat. While the veteran provided great production in his time with the team, Miami is working with limited financial resources. Deng's deal with the Lakers is reported to be worth $72 million over four years.
After LeBron James left Miami for Cleveland two years ago, the Heat turned to Deng to take over the vacated forward spot. It is difficult to replace a player like James, but Deng undoubtedtly played up to his contract in Miami. With persistent stifling defense and clutch shooting, Deng was a key reason that Miami made the playoffs this past season.
Deng was a member of Miami's starting five the past two years and it remains to be seen where the team turns now. Miami has several question marks early into free agency. Hassan Whiteside will be at center after agreeing to a long-term deal on Friday. Goran Dragic should be back at point guard, barring a trade for financial reasons. The other three spots are up in the air at this time.
Not only does Miami need to figure out a replacement for Deng's starting spot, but the team still is attempting to bring back Dwyane Wade. The guard has been fielding offers from other teams and is reportedly upset with Miami's interest thus far.
The Heat are set to meet with free agent Kevin Durant this weekend as well, but are not considered the favorites to sign him at this time.