5 NBA Teams That Would Be Best Potential Fits for Luol Deng
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been all over the place this year. The latest news surrounding them comes from ESPN's Brian Windhorst, who's reporting that they're now shopping Luol Deng, the forward they traded for just last month.
Deng, an impending free agent, has given the team no indication of what his plans are following the season, leaving Cleveland with little choice but to gauge the level of interest around the league.
"I'm very open to sit down to talk," Deng said regarding his future in Cleveland, via Royce Young of CBS Sports. "At the same time, I'm OK with waiting until the summer."
Despite the recent winning streak, the addition of Deng just doesn't appear to have moved the needle enough for Cleveland.
Whether he leaves via trade or as a free agent this summer, these are the best fits for Deng moving forward.
Dallas makes sense as a long-term destination for Luol Deng—he just might not get there this season.
According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, the Mavericks called the Cavaliers to engage in talks over Deng, but they don't have anything serious to offer.
Depending on how Deng's situation ultimately plays out, Dallas could still sign him in free agency without having to give up anything.
It makes basketball sense. The Mavericks are a veteran team in need of one more impact player, particularly a guy who can score and defend at the small forward position.
Deng would allow Dallas to take some of the pressure off Dirk Nowitzki offensively, while his game should slide seamlessly onto the team's uninspiring wing.
This match looks like it will probably have to happen via free agency, but it's one to keep an eye on as a sensible possibility.
If I'm the Cleveland Cavaliers, I know what section of the pond I'm casting my fishing line towards.
The Phoenix Suns have assets to trade and a need for a scoring wing. This is the team the Cavaliers should be dangling Luol Deng in front of.
It makes sense for everyone. The Suns own about 84 draft picks in 2014, along with Emeka Okafor's expiring contract, which the Cavaliers could take in return without absorbing any long-term hits to their cap.
For Deng, he'd have the chance to play for an exciting young team on the rise, where he'd fill the starting small forward slot and the role of veteran leader.
If I'm Phoenix, I'm not taking the chance of seeing what happens in free agency. This should be an opportunity to land an All-Star-caliber forward without giving up any established talent.
Los Angeles Lakers
At this point, the Los Angeles Lakers just need talent. And Luol Deng might be the only top-shelf talent that will be available to them until 2015.
The Lakers could just try to sign him outright this offseason, but there's no guarantees unless they take the initiative.
However, ESPN's Brian Windhordst notes that Deng can't be packaged with any players in a trade, meaning a Deng-for-Pau Gasol deal would be a challenge to complete, given Gasol makes $5 million more and their salaries don't match.
A Deng-Lakers deal would seem more likely to go down on the free-agent market. The Lakers will have money to blow, and there won't be many others worth spending it on.
Deng would ultimately give the Lakers an actual building block to pair with whoever they land in the 2014 draft and the highly-anticipated summer of 2015.
This Charlotte Bobcats team is moving in the right direction, and though he wouldn't be the final piece, Luol Deng seems like just the type of scorer they could use on the wing.
It's a place where Deng could still see a heavy workload, yet he'd have a viable big man in Al Jefferson to lean on and a point guard in Kemba Walker who's rising up the ranks.
Depending on Charlotte's willingness to pull the trigger and Deng's willingness to re-sign, this is a deal that could potentially go down via trade before the deadline. The Bobcats could send Ben Gordon's expiring contract, along with some cheaper, untapped potential, like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeffery Taylor and/or Cody Zeller to sweeten the pot.
Charlotte is currently the No. 8 seed in the East, and the addition of Deng would certainly give them the chance to improve upon that position.
Either way, with the right pitch, the Bobcats might be able to land Deng in free agency the way they did with Jefferson.
The Washington Wizards could use a vet with a winning track record to complement the young talent in their backcourt.
Luol Deng isn't the answer for a title, but he should get Washington over the hump that's kept it from being taken too seriously.
The Wizards might have a tough time finding a deal via trade, although a swap involving impending free agents Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat would work. But assuming the Wizards don't want to part with Gortat, or that the Cavaliers would want more than just rentals, a Deng-to-Washington match seems likelier to happen through free agency.
The Wizards are currently No. 6 in the East and four games behind the No. 3 Toronto Raptors. And a John Wall-Bradley Beal-Deng trio might pack just enough punch to propel them into that next tier.