The Cleveland Cavaliers pulled of the first big move on the day of the 2014 NBA Trade Deadline as they agreed to a deal that will with the Philadelphia 76ers that lands Cleveland center Spencer Hawes. Hawes is an expiring contract, but his offense and spacing could be a welcomed addition to Cleveland, even if his lack of defensive prowess is not.
Cleveland might have something else brewing, though, now with the Washington Wizards. According to a report from ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Wizards are making a push in the remaining hours before the 3 p.m. deadline to try and enlist the services of veteran forward Luol Deng. Recent reports said that teams around the league were being deterred from a potential deal for Deng due to his unwillingness to sign an extension, but the Wizards are still in the works of trying to make a deal happen.
Stein also reported that the Wizards aren’t alone in making a push for Wizards, but noted that they have long coveted the tough veteran having made a run at him during the 2013 NBA Draft when Deng was still with the Chicago Bulls.
UPDATE: Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports that there is “no traction” with Wizards on trade for Deng, nor with other teams. Berger cites Cavs’ desire for first-round pick in potential trade as the deal-breaker right now.
Deng’s production overall this season hasn’t been eye-popping in any sense and has only declined since he arrived in a discombobulating situation in Cleveland. However, the 28-year-old has earned his positive reputation around the league as a terrific defender and leader who can sure up a number of things on the wing, even if that hasn’t been the case with the Cavs.
The Wizards are also looking to add point guard depth behind John Wall at the deadline, but bringing in Deng would be a bold, surprising move that would have to please Washington fans. For a young team like the Wizards that is trying to hold steady into the postseason and possibly make some noise in the playoffs, Deng could provide the guidance of a player that’s been there on numerous occasions to limit the team’s youthful mistakes and keep them focused when that time comes.
Deng is on the books for over $14.5 million this season, which makes the pieces that Washington would send to Cleveland in exchange for Deng even more curious. If the Wizards are still interested in acquiring point guard depth, they aren’t going to want to mortgage too many assets in a deal for Deng, but Deng could also have a greater affect than a backup point guard if things were to work out ideally after a trade. This is certainly something to keep an eye on, especially given the Cavaliers’ early activity on Thursday.