For Luol Deng, the past couple of years have been a non-stop roller coaster ride with more downs than ups, and he is finally starting to see the end in sight. Last season, he dealt with a nagging Achilles injury, and was traded from the Chicago Bulls to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It’s safe to say that he wasn’t to thrilled with the move, and he now looks to a summer full of teams fighting for his services.
While there are still two bigger names out there in LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, Deng figures to be the next big Free Agent target in the summer of 2014. While it figures that LeBron will stay in Miami and choose not to opt out of his final year under contract, Carmelo figures to be the only real big name ahead of Deng in terms of priority.
So what does a team that wins the bidding services for Deng receive? Deng is a true two-way player who can give teams fits on the offensive end of the floor, as well as the defensive end. In 23 games with the Bulls last season, Deng averaged 19 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists, to go along with 1 steal per game, but once he was traded to the unfavorable destination of Cleveland, his numbers dipped significantly.
What could it mean if Dallas were to persuade Deng into coming to play at the AAC on a nightly basis?
The Mavericks, by all early rumors, think they have a significant shot of persuading Carmelo Anthony to Dallas, but if that fails, look for them to immediately turn their attention to Deng. While Deng may be the Mavericks’ second option, Dallas could be Deng’s first. He is looking to play for a contender, and while Dallas may have been bumped in the first round of the playoffs, it took all seven games for the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs to eventually advance.
Kelly Scaletta, featured columnist for Bleacher Report wrote in a piece about Deng’s potential suitors:
Dallas makes the most sense for Deng for several reasons. First, it’s a perfect situation in terms of fit and chemistry. Deng is a bad first option, okay as a second and fantastic as a third. He could serve that role well playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis.
He would be joining a very good duo in Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis, two guys who want to win NOW, and are just looking for a third scoring option, while improving their defense in the process.
After watching the Spurs manhandle Portland in five games, and cruising to a 2-0 lead over Oklahoma City, the Mavericks look like they are much further along in competing for a title than we originally thought. He would be going to a place where he wouldn’t have to be leaned on so heavily on the offensive end, and could truly provide the Mavericks a solid veteran on defense.
If the Mavericks and Nowitzki can come to an agreement on a lower contract, it would provide the Mavericks to offer Deng some big money, and maybe leave room for the Mavericks to go after a center, possibly Marcin Gortat.
While the possibility of a Tyson Chandler reunion with the Mavericks, and welcoming Carmelo to Dallas in the process, the grouping of Gortat, Nowitzki, Deng, Ellis and Calderon could be a very tough squad to compete with on a nightly basis.
Deng is looking to join a team built to win now. Nowitzki and Ellis, combined with Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks management should allow Deng to do just that.
Photo Credit: Michael Mulvey / AP
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