There’s plenty of interest coming from the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and even the Phoenix Suns, but as of now Luol Deng is closer to the Miami Heat than any other team, remaining the biggest name in free agency at the moment.
Deng wasn’t going to stick around in Cleveland after a bad couple of months there, with Deng surprised by the lack of professionalism and generally not playing well himself, with the departure from the Chicago Bulls not being easy on him. Maybe the Heat can prove to be a new, welcoming home up to his standards, with a contract that seems to be around $20 million for two seasons or something of the sort.
Deng coming isn’t guaranteed. He still has his offers from the Mavs, who are probably not going to end up with Chandler Parsons, Atlanta Hawks and the Phoenix Suns, who have plenty of cap space but not enough players who want to play for them. Still, the Heat, with Chris Bosh and probably Dwyane Wade, will be a pretty impressive team with a bit more depth than last season if Deng actually joins.
Of course, Deng is no LeBron James. He was always considered as a player who could slow or trouble James when playing for the Bulls, but numbers show that it is not the case. A solid defender and a capable player on offense with his shooting ability as long as he doesn’t have to create his own shot too much, Deng is a borderline All-Star at his best, but that’s only when the East is a low point when it comes to overall talent.
Deng averaged 16 points and 5.7 rebounds last season for the Cavs and Bulls combined. At 29 after 11 seasons in the NBA, it’s clear that his ability to play for long minutes without it showing is gone. Yet he brings a lot to the table for the Miami Heat or any team that signs him. It might not make them as strong as they’ve gotten used to over the last four seasons, and maybe things could have been done better if James would have announced his decision sooner, but the Heat seem to be doing a good job in retooling from the ashes of his departure.