The Cavaliers were so desperate to make the playoffs this season, they traded for Luol Deng without any guarantee he’d stay with Cleveland this summer.
Deng’s production has fallen off, though the Cavaliers were so deficient at small forward, he’s actually helped them (8-10 with him, 13-23 without him). Still, Cleveland is three games out of playoff position.
That’s why the Cavaliers are considering trading Deng. That and the fact that their team is in disarray, and they must know Deng recognizes that.
But will any other team trade for Deng, a pending free agent, without him signing an extension? And would he do it?
Forward Luol Deng’s reluctance to commit to a long-term extension with any team before July free agency makes it unlikely that the Cleveland Cavaliers can find a willing trade partner before Thursday’s NBA deadline, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
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.
Unless the Cavaliers are willing to sell low, this will definitely narrow their pool of trade partners. Maybe some team(s) would accept Deng as a half-season rental, someone who can help with a playoff run. But more teams would trade for him if he’d sign an extension.
I’m a little surprised Deng is so anti-extension – unless he’s really not and is just unsatisfied with the offers he’s gotten. That’s be more rationale. Still, I’d imagine leaving Chicago for Cleveland has opened Deng’s eyes to how less-cohesive teams function, and he probably doesn’t want to get stuck somewhere without learning more about the team.
But if a team offers a big-money extension, would he really turn it down? And if that team wanted Deng badly enough to offer a sizable extension, wouldn’t it also probably offer the Cavaliers enough to accept a trade?
It seems no team values Deng highly enough to make that happen. That’s a product of his play in Cleveland and his contract status.
A lot will change this summer for Deng, and there’s a good chance he gets the contract he desires then. Unless a Cleveland trade partner steps up with an impressive extension offer, he’s better off letting this season play out, which seems to be what he’s doing.