Cleveland Cavaliers Reportedly Testing Trade Market for Luol Deng

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2014

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UPDATE on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 2:15 p.m. ET by Dan Favale

Well, so much for the Cavs lowering their asking price on Deng, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski:

As usual, Woj is right. No team is going to relinquish a first-rounder in exchange for an obvious flight risk.

---End of update--


UPDATE on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 12:40 p.m. ET by Dan Favale

Just like that, CBS Sports' Ken Berger brings word that the Cavs have lowered their asking price on Luol Deng:

This makes sense, if only because the Cavs were never going to get a first-round pick for Deng, who can leave any team he's traded to in free agency this summer.

---End of update---


UPDATE on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 12:35 p.m. ET by Dan Favale

Jason Lloyd of the Arkon Beacon Jouranal bears some new intel on Luol Deng:

Trevor Ariza makes substantially less than Deng, so other contracts would likely have to be involved. You also have to imagine Cleveland wants a draft pick or other asset in return, since Ariza, like Deng, is a free agent after this season.

---End of update---


UPDATE on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 11:15 a.m. ET by Adam Fromal

Let's not jump on the Washington Wizards bandwagon too soon. 

As Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported via Twitter, the Detroit Pistons and Wizards aren't making things happen on the Luol Deng front. It's possible that Cleveland's asking price is just too high, especially for a player who could amount to little more than a half-season rental. 

That first-round pick is a lot to give up, and teams are balking at the price. 

--End of update--

UPDATE on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 10:25 a.m. ET by Adam Fromal

According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, the Cleveland Cavaliers' decision to fire general manager Chris Grant is having a negative impact on the relationship with Luol Deng: 

As the Cavaliers continue to listen to trade offers for Deng with Thursday’s trade deadline approaching, it’s important to understand Deng is upset Grant was fired shortly after he was brought here. Deng conceded to me after Wednesday’s game he was close to Grant and wished for more time with him.

"Nobody is going to come out and say I want to be traded. That’s not me anyway," the small forward told Lloyd after helping beat the Orlando Magic on the penultimate day of the trading period. "The situation I’m in, I always work out whatever I go through. I’ve never been the guy to come out and say, ‘I don’t want to be here.’"

Sounds a lot like a guy who wants to stay in town, right?

Yeah...not exactly. 

Meanwhile, ESPN's Marc Stein reports that the Washington Wizards are showing some interest: 

It looks like some pieces are starting to come together. 

--End of update--


UPDATE on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 5:25 p.m. ET by Adam Fromal

Don't hold your breath and wait for a trade that sends Luol Deng away from the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, nothing is going to happen because the small forward won't commit to a contract extension and seems determined to hit the open market as a free agent this summer:

The Cavaliers have had conversations with several teams, including Dallas, Detroit and Indiana about Deng, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Nevertheless, there's no traction on a deal and no team seems inclined to give up valuable assets for a player who could walk away in free agency.

As so often seems to be the case during trade-rumor season, this whole Deng situation was a false alarm. Despite interest from the Dallas Mavericks (we knew about that), the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers (surprising), nothing is going to happen. 

You may now proceed to follow more pressing news. 

--End of update--


UPDATE on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m. ET by Adam Fromal

We have the first strike on the lure the Cleveland Cavaliers are dangling out in the NBA's trade-rumor waters. 

According to CBS Sports' Ken Berger, the Dallas Mavericks are interested in acquiring Luol Deng:

There's no telling what the structure of this potential deal would look like, and I'd greet it with a heavy dose of skepticism. The Cavaliers are coveting players who can help them compete this season, and the Mavericks don't have any of those readily available. 

Unless the Cavs are overvaluing Shawn Mario by an extreme amount, it's tough to see this happening without a third team entering the picture. 

--End of update--



This experiment didn't last very long. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Luol Deng earlier in the season, sending Andrew Bynum back to the Chicago Bulls so he could be waived and used as a means to clear cap space. But after just 18 moderately successful games with his new organization, the small forward is once again on the block. 

Rumor has it that the Cavaliers are testing the market and gauging interest in Deng's services: 

Well, that was quick. 

Remember, former general manager Chris Grant let the world know right after acquiring Deng that the two-time All-Star wasn't just a one-season rental; he was a part of the team's long-term future. 

"We're bringing him here and we'd like to keep him here long term,'' Grant told The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer. "He's 28 years old. We see him as part of our core and our youth moving forward. We'll get through the season and get into those conversations at the appropriate time.''

But that was before all the trouble started. It was prior to the start of rumors that everything was falling apart in Cleveland, creating a mess that Deng just couldn't stand. The quote was relayed before this report from ESPN's Marc Stein, which references the Cavs losing to a Los Angeles Lakers team that was depleted to the point of only having four healthy players who hadn't fouled out: 

Yet what happened against the Lakers was merely the low point after months and months of disarray and dysfunction. Kyrie Irving's star has lost a hard-to-believe amount of gleam given how much praise he was generating as recently as last July at a Team USA minicamp in Las Vegas. Dion Waiters' reputation for coachability, and as a teammate, is worse yet. And the general toxicity in the air around this team -- where rumblings of player discontent with Mike Brown are getting louder by the day -- makes you wonder if they have any hope of re-signing newly acquired (and shell-shocked) Luol Deng in free agency. 

Even though the Feb. 18 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers gave Cleveland a five-game stretch of undefeated basketball, one that offers hope for a second-half turnaround and eventual playoff berth, the Cavs are well-aware that re-signing Deng may now be a pipe dream. 

"The Cavs, according to sources, are concerned about their ability to re-sign Deng this offseason, as he'll be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. Several teams with cap space, including the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, are expected to be interested in signing Deng," reports ESPN's Brian Windhorst

It's hard to change a culture this quickly, although firing Grant seemed to be a step in the right direction. Deng may already have seen enough, making up his mind well before the free-agency period actually unfolds. 

The small forward is by no means guaranteed to be traded, though. It's important to remember that, as the Cavaliers organization is only gauging interest.

Cleveland, in an act that should be commended, is recognizing the potential futility of its situation and doing its due diligence. While they should feel a modicum of embarrassment for letting the 2013-14 season reach such a low point that this is necessary, it's best to react to developments rather than refuse to acknowledge them. 

Deng, in all likelihood, will remain a member of the Cavaliers. It will be tough for any team to meet the asking price—which involves helping the Cavs upgrade this season's level of talent, per Windhorst—when there's no telling what he'll do in free agency this summer. 

But at least Cleveland is exploring all of its options.