Cleveland Cavaliers Will Reap Rewards of Luol Deng Trade In Years to Come

Will GroomsCorrespondent IJanuary 7, 2014

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 5:  Luol Deng #9 of the Chicago Bulls drives to the basket against the Miami Heat on December 5, 2013 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Luol Deng on Monday night in exchange for Andrew Bynum and three draft picks. This is the marquee trade of the 2013-14 NBA season and one that has the potential to turn the Cleveland Cavaliers into a serious contender.

In a greedy move by the All-Star, Deng rejected a deal that would have paid him $10 million annually over the next three or four years, leading to the trade.

Former teammate Joakim Noah likely advised him to stay.

Through a trade they desperately needed, the Cavs gained a proven scorer in the hopes of ending their offensive woes that have led to a team average of 95.0 points per game—sixth-lowest in the NBA. 

With as many as 11 players receiving at least one start thus far this season due to injury, performance or matchup, the Cavaliers' rotation is far from set. Deng has the potential to step into a large role and contribute immediately.

As it stands, only Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson have received starts in every game. With Deng playing his natural position at the 3, Thompson at the 4 and Irving at the 1, C.J. Miles will gain a solid threat to assist him on the perimeter while Anderson Varejao will regain his full-time starting spot at the 5 following Bynum's departure.

Though the 28-year-old has some tread on his tires, the Cavs are happy with what they're getting—a proven scorer with playoff experience on a young team with players who've mostly not seen postseason action.

It's hard to say what the rapport will be like among the starting unit. On one hand, you have a star point guard in Irving who is the face of the franchise. He is far and away Cleveland's best asset and has been for the duration of his short career.

On the other hand, you have Deng, an older player who's in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career—averaging a career-high 19.0 points per game. 

Cleveland currently owns the NBA's worst road record (2-15) and is 2-8 over the last 10 games, which also ranks last in the league.

On a team that has none of the tools to be a contender just yet, the acquisition of Deng will initially provide a renewed surge of enthusiasm within the fanbase.

The team will have its struggles, but will begin to settle in as the season wears on. With the body of work exemplified by Eastern Conference opponents, the Cavs will come closer to a playoff berth than fans might think.

It'll take another year or two for Deng to be completely absorbed into the fabric of the team, head coach Mike Brown to settle in with a new Cleveland squad and the Cavaliers to be a contender in the East.


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