The Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the entire NBA when they traded the unwanted Andrew Bynum and draft picks for All-Star Luol Deng. It’s been known for years that the Cavaliers have been clever with their salary cap so they would be in a position in which they could lure a premier NBA talent or two to continue building around their core of young superstars.
LeBron James can test free agency in the summer of 2014, and there were a lot of rumors that the Cavaliers would make a push to re-sign him, being as he has unfinished business there and the Cavaliers are one of the only teams able to afford him. However, has the acquisition of Deng hurt their chances of landing their former star?
The good thing about the Deng deal is that his contract expires after this season finishes, so the Cavaliers can be smart and flexible about their next move. Signing Deng could prove to be difficult, but the Cavaliers are best placed to reach his demands of near $15 million per year on a three-year contract. Signing Deng and keeping their other stars would likely mean putting LeBron too far from their reach.
If there was some compromise, a few of the Cavaliers players could take less money and allow the team to sign both Deng and LeBron, but that seems unlikely. It would be a lot of work to sign two very similar players that play in the same position, though LeBron is obviously vastly superior. The Cavaliers could find the room for the both, and would be a top contender to win an NBA championship if both joined the team.
The Cavaliers are in control here, and they should be rewarded for their smart move this summer. They’ve signed a great player that will help their team greatly, but they’re now in a position in which they could land either Deng or James on a long contract. Whether it’s James, Deng or both, the Cavaliers are in an extremely good position right now.