We’re still awaiting information on how Derrick Rose’s willingness or reluctance to participate in this free agent’s decision process might affect things. But it looks like Miami president Pat Riley and his entourage of championship rings will be pitching South Beach in Chicago this weekend.
Report: Heat president Pat Riley to meet with Luol Deng in Chicago http://t.co/Y4TxhNa3KV
— Eye on Basketball (@EyeOnBasketball) July 5, 2014
It’s easy enough to imagine how Deng’s skill set might reinvigorate Miami as a title contender, given his two-way game and jack-of-all-trades abilities. It’s not as easy to see why Deng would take the pay cut required for him to fit into the Heat’s salary structure, assuming they didn’t find a way to dredge more space. The plan to meet meeting was first reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.
Yes, after the half-season Deng spent in Cleveland following his January trade from Chicago, he probably craves some winning – and a little attention – again. But the two-time East All-Star forward is in his prime earning years, and turned down the Bulls’ three-year, $30 million offer right before he was traded. He has earned more than $81 million so far but at 29, he’s young enough to double that before he’s through, given the right situation and production.
Deng has the sort of maturity that guys such as Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Chris Andersen and Rashard Lewis have brought to Miami’s roster as valuble role players. But just because he’s been around for 10 seasons doesn’t mean he’s ready to sacrifice big bucks to fit into LeBron James and Dwyane Wade’s supporting cast.
Dallas and Atlanta, both interested parties, would seem to offer Deng better in a balance of competition and compensation. Deng – who ranked second to James in many scouts’ ratings when they both came out of high school in 2003 (Deng went to Duke for one season) – has averaged 16.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 35.8 minutes.
If this were to happen, Deng’s signing in Miami would have a certain Ray Allen-leaves-Boston feel for a lot of Bulls fans. He’s no longer with the organization but Chicago is the team that drafted him No. 7 overall in 2004 and signed him to his six-year, $71 million contract that just lapsed. Deng was invaluable to the Bulls – a real favorite and minutes-eater for coach Tom Thibodeau, too – as they butted heads with the Heat the past four seasons and with James in Cleveland before that.