© 2023 BVM Sports. Best Version Media, LLC.

Luol Deng: Where is the former Bulls, Lakers forward now?

Luol Deng: Where is the former Bulls, Lakers forward now?
Luol Deng helped return the Chicago Bulls to the NBA playoffs in 2005, and only missed postseason action once during his time with the organization. (Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports)
Mike Roberts

CHICAGO (BVM) – From Sudan to the NBA, Luol Deng’s journey to becoming a two-time NBA All-Star was unlike any that had come before him. For the long-time NBA forward, his mission off the court was always bigger than his play on it. 

After providing a consistent presence at the highest level of basketball for over a decade, Deng has taken his efforts global, in hopes of spreading the game that has given him so much. With the help of the league as an ambassador, Deng is putting his ideas into motion.

Luol Deng’s early life, college career

Born in what is now South Sudan, Deng and his family faced challenges throughout his early life as they searched for a fulltime residency after fleeing Africa at the age of 4. With a civil war forcing them out of their home, Deng would take refuge in Egypt before receiving political asylum from the United Kingdom five years later.

While growing up in South London, Deng picked up the sport of basketball from his older brother. Quickly becoming one of the top players overseas, the then14-year-old rising star would make the difficult decision to head to the United States following an opportunity to play at Blair Academy in New Jersey.

Luol Deng Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls small forward Luol Deng (9) drives around Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger (33) in the second half at the United Center. The Bulls defeated the Pacers 110-89. (Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports)

Shining throughout his time at the high school level, Deng rose to the top of the boards his senior year. In a loaded 2003 class that featured a generational talent in LeBron James, Deng slotted in as the No. 2 player in the country drawing interest from all of the top collegiate programs. 

With his choice of schools to pick from, Deng opted to play for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, headlining as the only major signing by the college. As one of the first, and few, one-and-done’s to play for the program, the 6-foot-8 forward would go on to average 15.1 points per game as the Blue Devils enjoyed a 2004 Final Four berth.

Luol Deng’s NBA career

Following his lone collegiate season, Deng entered the 2004 NBA Draft after his freshman season. The freshman forward was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the seventh overall pick, but his rights were immediately sent to the Chicago Bulls

While racking up the fourthmost minutes on the team his rookie season, Deng helped the “Baby Bulls” return to the playoffs for the first time since Michael Jordan’s final year with the team. Alongside teammate Ben Gordon, the firstyear duo was selected to the NBA-All Rookie first team as Deng averaged 11.7 points per game.

As the young forward gained more of a role in the team’s offense the following years, Deng would go on to continue to his consistent play during the 2005-06 season before enjoying a true breakout campaign in 2006-07. 

In his third NBA season, Deng would help the Bulls to their first playoff series win during his time with the team. Behind a careerhigh 82 games played, along with his 18.8 points per game, Chicago entered the 2007 NBA playoffs as the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. With a matchup against the defending champion Miami Heat, Deng and the Bulls would quickly end the team’s repeat hopes with a four-game upset sweep over the 2006 NBA champions. Deng’s gamehigh 33 points in Game 1 of the series set the tone for Chicago, as the rising forward went on to average 24 points in the team’s remaining three matchups. 

Following a loss to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Deng would try to continue his steady rise during the 2007-08 campaign, but left Achilles tendinitis would keep the fourthyear forward and the Bulls from a playoff appearance during the year. The missed opportunity would be the only time in Deng’s Bulls career that he would miss postseason action. 

Deng would continue being an integral part of the team’s playoff efforts in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 season, and following the addition of head coach Tom Thibodeau in 2010-11, the star forward and the Bulls would receive their best chance at a NBA Finals appearance. Behind his 17.4 points per game, and MVP play from Derrick Rose, the Bulls quickly raced out to two playoff series wins. With a matchup against the new-look Miami Heat, now featuring LeBron James and Chris Bosh, in the Eastern Conference Finals, the No. 1-seeded Bulls would fall short in five games following their 62-20 regular season record. The opportunity would be Deng’s closest chance at securing a Larry O’Brien trophy. 

Similar seasons would follow for Deng and the Bulls who would go on to receive back-to-back all-star game selections in 2012 and 2013. With the emergence of Jimmy Butler over the previous seasons, Deng found himself on the trading block during the 2013-14 campaign. In a midseason trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Deng was traded to the organization for Andrew Bynum and a first-round pick.

After a half season with the Cavaliers, Deng would sign with the Miami Heat following the departure of James. In his two seasons with the Heat, the former Chicago Bulls standout averaged 13.1 points and appeared in 146 games.

Luol Deng Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng (9) shoots against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half at Staples Center. (Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

His time with the organization led to a serious payday during the 2016 offseason, as Deng inked a four-year, $70-million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. With the team deciding on a youth movement midway through his tenure, Deng was benched as the team aimed to give minutes to younger players. Making it through just two years of the contract, Deng only appeared in 57 total games and was waived before signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves for his final season. 

The move by the Los Angeles Lakers would have long-term ramifications as the team finally ended its payments on the contract following the 2021-22 campaign. 

Luol Deng’s net worth, post-playing life

In 16 NBA seasons, Deng made over $166 million in career earnings and currently has an estimated net worth of over $200 million. Deng has stayed busy following the end of his NBA career, continuing his passion in real estate. What was an early endeavor during his time in the league has transitioned into his post-career life, as he continues to build his resume in the real estate world. He has currently amassed a portfolio including apartments, condos, hotels, and resorts.

Along with his real estate work, Deng has always had a focus in affecting community efforts. Throughout his time both in the league, and away from it, the London native has been involved with a host of charities, and has continued to grow his foundation: the Luol Deng Foundation. The non-profit organization aims to use basketball as a way to give hope to those in Africa, USA and the UK. Deng has always had a heavy hand in helping globally, bringing it to the main stage during his all-star game appearance in 2012 when he was introduced wearing a black t-shirt with an outline of the continent of Africa. 

“We have a Deng Top-50 camp for South Sudanese refugee kids here in the US,” Deng told NBA.com of his recent work. “And we have 98% of those kids on scholarships in colleges…we have over 130 kids that are [on] scholarships in the US. We have over 2,000 to 3,000 kids a year and now we have Her League [for South Sudanese girls] and we are trying to do the same thing [there]. 

“Every year we do a Doctors Without Borders drive where we have a number of South Sudanese doctors from across Europe that come together and go to different villages and perform surgeries. They perform over 500 surgeries a year. Ya know, I could just keep going on…but in terms of basketball for myself, I know that basketball is what gave me the opportunity [to help].”