Updates from Tuesday, July 15
The Miami HEAT announced today that they have signed forward Luol Deng. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Signing Luol Deng is one of the most important free agent signings that we have ever had in the history of the franchise,” said HEAT President Pat Riley. “He is a proven All-Star and quintessential team player, both as a scorer, as well as an All-NBA defender. He brings the attitude of a warrior and competes every single night against the very, very best. We are thrilled to welcome him to the HEAT family.”
Deng posted a photo to Instagram of himself signing the contract:
It's official. I'm really looking forward to this new chapter with a special organization. I'm excited to have an opportunity to play here and contribute to the culture of success. Thank you to all the fans that have supported me and the new ones welcoming me to Miami. #Shukran 🙏
Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report previously reported on Deng's deal in Miami:
Hearing that Luol Deng passed his physical, as expected. So that deal should be official soon, as Heat continue playing with numbers.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 15, 2014
Veteran NBA forward Luol Deng served as an exceptional all-around player for the Chicago Bulls for nine years before spending part of last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now he has moved on to a more promising situation as a free agent in pursuit of his first Larry O'Brien Trophy, signing with the Miami Heat on Sunday.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports broke the news of an agreement:
Free agent forward Luol Deng has agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with the Miami Heat, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 13, 2014
Deal will include a player option on the second year of Deng's deal, source tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 13, 2014
Brian Windhorst of ESPN weighed in on Deng's deal in Miami:
Pat Riley hasn't lost his touch in negotiations, the Heat got Luol Deng at their price & still have a formidable lineup.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 13, 2014
It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Deng wouldn't stay with a Cleveland franchise that had the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The Cavs had reportedly put Deng on the trade block around the deadline, per Windhorst, suspecting he would not return to the team.
That turned out to be precisely the case. Although he denied saying such things, Deng reportedly vented his frustration about how much of a mess his new team was, per a February report by Mitch Lawrence of New York's Daily News.
"The stuff going on in practice would never be tolerated by the coaching staff or the front office back in Chicago. It’s a mess," Deng reportedly said to a close friend.
As for what the open market held, Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein reported for ESPNDallas.com that the Dallas Mavericks were interested in signing Deng to add even more experience to their seasoned roster.
Just about any team would covet Deng, so the Heat are fortunate to have acquired him. He boasts supreme versatility as an able scorer when necessary, a savvy distributor, a strong rebounder and a lockdown defender.
Deng, 29, averaged 16 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per contest last season. He figures to make an instant impact in Miami's rotation as a starter at the 3 position. The term "glue guy" is often used to describe a veteran who can do a little bit of everything, and Deng fits that description—only he's also a two-time All-Star.
Miami was reeling after losing LeBron James in free agency, but with Deng it has resolved at least one part of the puzzle as it moves on without the league's biggest star.
Given how team-oriented Deng is and how much he wants to win, this is a situation with extreme, mutual positives. Although he didn't mesh well in Cleveland last year, that should be pinned on the inept offenses coach Mike Brown presided over during both of his tenures with the Cavs.
It will be fascinating to see what Deng can do—still in his prime—with an unprecedented, synergistic supporting cast surrounding him. His skill set can complement any team, but given the right circumstances, he can carry a team defensively or hit clutch shots in crunch time. If and when he's called upon to do that for Miami, Deng can be counted on to come through.