The picture of what the Miami Heat will look like next season is getting a little bit clearer, with Luol Deng joining via free agency making things seem a bit better and more promising than they did after the big decision during the weekend that cost them their best player.
The Miami Heat didn’t panic when LeBron James walked out the door. They remained calm and stuck to their plan of adding certain players, only suddenly having more cap space to use on the re-signings of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Luol Deng is another piece of that puzzle that keeps them from falling apart the moment their best player left, which under the circumstances was the best thing they could have done.
Deng becomes the third outside player to join via free agency, coming after Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. The Heat, besides re-signing Chris Bosh for massive money and being on their way to keep Dwyane Wade paid and happy, have also re-signed Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen, with Chalmers making $4 million a season for two years and Andersen making around $5 million a season over the next two seasons.
There’s also Shabazz Napier, their first round draft pick. It’s hard to say if Napier was part of the plan to keep LeBron James or were the Heat actually interested in signing him to become one of their two point guards. It’s worth remembering that with LeBron James gone, there’s no more point forward to lead the team. McRoberts is a good passer but he is no James, and neither is Deng. Napier or Chalmers will get to see a lot more of the ball, unless we see some more surprising additions from the Heat.
Deng, signing a two-year, $20 million deal with a player option coming before his second season. Despite having a bad patch of games with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Deng wasn’t willing to go below the $10 million a season he was looking for, and even rejected offers of that value earlier in free agency, thinking he deserves more.
Deng has averaged more minutes on the floor than any other NBA player except for Kevin Durant over the last four seasons with 38.1. An injury in the 2013 playoffs and one last season make his iron-man reputation get somewhat damaged. The Cavs and Heat have basically switched Small Forwards this offseason only without a trade. It’s also worth noting that Deng rejected a three-year, $30 million deal last offseason from the Bulls to extend his contract. You never know what’s going to happen with him in Miami, but he seemed to have made a bad decision back then.