There is no doubt that the Cleveland Cavaliers saw a major upgrade in their perimeter with the addition of Luol Deng. His arrival was big news for all the fans in Cleveland. Deng is the best small forward the team had since the LeBron James era. In addition, the 28-year All-Star is a type of player that can greatly fit with the “face of the franchise,” Kyrie Irving. Nonetheless, is he a long-term solution for the Cavs or could he turn out to be a short-term disaster? Let me explain.
The way the Cleveland Cavaliers handled Andrew Bynum’s trade shouted that the team is desperate. Of course, with the course the team is recording this season, that’s rational. Cleveland currently holds a 12-23 record but lies just two games behind the eighth seed which leads to the playoffs. This means that the Cavs desperately wanted to save the season and they pushed hard to do so.
Normally, the Chicago Bulls should have been in a desperation mode. After an entire season with Derrick Rose out and heading all the way for another dumped season, the Bulls had almost no guarantees to retain Luol Deng in their arsenal. Multiple reports evens stated that Deng and the Bulls failed to negotiate an extension. There was no other team than the Cleveland Cavaliers that could offer such a big salary dump through the Andrew Bynum trade. The Cavs clearly had the upper hand but didn’t exploit it the best way possible.
Of course, Cleveland will see a big boost in its performance with Luol Deng onboard. On both ends of the floor, Deng will be provide significant help to the team. Up to now in the season, the 6’9” Duke product averages 19.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, numbers that the Cavs lacked from any of their players except for Kyrie Irving.
Nonetheless, there is absolutely no guarantee Luol Deng will decide to stay in Cleveland this summer. The Cavs, of course, can offer him a contract extension up to three years and worth $50 million. But until that extension is signed, chances are Deng becomes an unrestricted free-agent and he starts exploring the market.
On top of that, as a part of the deal, the Chicago Bulls acquired a top-12 protected first-round pick from the Cavaliers this year, which is projected to have big value. In addition, the Cavaliers gave the Bulls the right to swap first-round picks in 2015, as far as Cleveland’s pick isn’t within the lottery. Plus the Cavs also gave away two second-round picks.
It’s becoming now clear that the price the Cavaliers had to pay for a player they could have signed during the summer free-agency is high. Luol Deng refused to sign a three-year $30 million contract with the Bulls, so it’s most likely he will demand higher earnings from the Cavaliers, too. Can this be considered a good value for money? Can this trade be considered a good one for the Cavs? It’s very doubtful.