I think there is an expectation that this team is a playoff contender. But the NBA is a competitive place and anything can happen but I think that’s the expectations of coach and the players, the franchise, myself.
Late Monday night, the Cavaliers pulled the trigger on a deal designed to get them into the playoffs this year. Shams Charania for RealGM threw a major log on the trade fire when he relayed the news that the Cavs had acquired Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls.
The Cavs are currently 11-23 and in 13th place in the Eastern Conference. But in this down year for the conference, they’re only three games out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
Their climb back into contention should start immediately, with Deng starting at the small forward position. This is a big upgrade at the spot where they need it the most—the Cavaliers haven’t had a huge-impact presence at the position since LeBron James took his talents to the Miami Heat.
Deng, who is due to be a free agent at the end of the season, has been with the Bulls since being drafted out of Duke in 2004. He is putting up a career-best scoring average this season at 19 points per game. The only concern has been a sore Achilles tendon, which has sidelined him for several games recently.
The team confirmed the trade on its official website. General manager Chris Grant had this to say:
We are very excited for Luol to join the Cavaliers organization. We have worked to acquire and maintain flexibility in order to capitalize on opportunities such as this. Luol reflects all that we are striving for in building our team. He’s a tremendous defensive player that can impact the game on both ends of the court with a team first mentality and is a high character leader.
Together with point guard Kyrie Irving and shooting guard Dion Waiters, Deng will form a solid perimeter trio.
The Cavs haven’t been anyone’s obvious choice lately in the playoff hunt. This changes everything. Adding the two-time All-Star will create an impact on both ends of the floor. Besides adding another scoring threat, Deng is also viewed as a superior wing defender.
The Cavaliers are currently three games out of last place in a weak Eastern Conference—that’s bound to change soon. Cleveland Cavalier fans have something real to cheer about. The Deng trade is very likely to push the Cavs into the 2014 playoffs.
Dan Gilbert is obviously enthused with this latest development.
He'll be even happier when his team meets its preseason goal and actually makes the playoffs.