The Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly been shopping recently acquired small forward Luol Deng leading up to Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline. The primary reason for their shopping of the former All-Star is the fact that the Cavs are worried that they won’t be able to re-sing Deng when he becomes a free-agent this summer and want to get value in exchange for him instead of potentially losing him and getting nothing in return.
Though there have been plenty of rumblings regarding teams being interested in Deng in recent days, it’s becoming increasingly likely that the Cavs will have to risk letting him enter free agency. According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Cleveland is having a hard time finding a “willing trade partner” for a deal involving Deng due to the fact that the veteran will not sign an extension with any team if he is dealt.
Since coming to Cleveland, Deng hasn’t really had much individual success and the Cavaliers haven’t responded in an ideal fashion, continuing to dwell in the mire of less-than-mediocre performance.
In 18 games with the Cavs, Deng has averaged only 14.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 32.9 minutes per game while shooting a meager 41.5 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from three. Moreover, he’s done very little in terms of leadership—at least from what we’ve seen—and hasn’t had the desired effect on Cleveland’s defense which has remained inconsistent and ineffective at best.
The 28-year-old Deng was dealt to Cleveland from the Chicago Bulls largely because of the fact that the Bulls and Deng couldn’t reach an agreement on an extension. Deng’s reluctance to sign an extension puts the Cavs in a bind leading up to the deadline and for the rest of the season.
Though Cleveland is at just 22-33 on the year, they’re just three games out of the eight-seed in the Eastern Conference. However, without a shake-up like the one a trade involving Deng could provide, it’s hard to imagine them making a big enough push to get into the postseason. As always, though, things can change in the hours remaining before the deadline and with this team moving forward.