Luol Deng

Just like Goran Dragic, Luol Deng would love to stay with the Miami Heat for another season. Guess what? It’s up to him, because he has the player option.

Deng averaged 14 points and 5.2 rebounds per game on 33.6 minutes a night in a mostly healthy season for the small forward (72 games), his first with the Miami Heat, a team that had to fight through a lot of injuries all season long, eventually missing out on the NBA playoffs after four consecutive NBA finals. He’s quite happy with the experience in South Beach.

I love this organization. It’s been top-class and everything. I’ve had one of my healthiest years. It was never anything serious. I’ve felt great about the medical staff. When you’ve been in the league 11 years, as soon as you start putting mileage on your body, you want a group that knows your body and you’re comfortable with them. The organization has been great.

Deng joined the Heat as a free agent, signing a two-year deal. The Heat didn’t seem like title contenders at the beginning of the season, but no one thought they’d be out of the playoffs. Then the injuries happened, the most critical of them to Chris Bosh in February (a blood clot in his lungs). The Goran Dragic trade, the emergence of Hassan Whiteside; all that wasn’t enough to finish in the top 8.

It’s funny how things went for Deng, who never even wanted to leave the Bulls. He was traded midway through the 2013-2014 season to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a place he never enjoyed playing at, but was the pre-LeBron James return phase. Deng wanted a big extension from the Bulls, which is why he was traded. Now he’s out of the playoffs for two consecutive years.

Face it, there’s no way Luol Deng is opting out of his contract this season because no one is going to give him a $10.5 million salary. It also makes sense not signing a new long term deal with the huge 2016 salary cap raise coming up. If Deng does stay the Heat have the potential to put up a very good lineup that includes Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside, Deng, Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic, who is also deciding on his player option.

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