A historically bad day for the Miami Heat could have been even worse had Chris Bosh done as expected and left South Beach for the Houston Rockets in the wake of LeBron James’ departure. But Bosh shocked the basketball world by re-committing to the Heat, and it’s only a matter of time until Dwyane Wade re-ups with Miami, too. Pat Riley still has ample cap space to improve his roster around the Big Two, and he’s reportedly using it in attempts to sign Luol Deng.
ESPN’s Marc Stein confirmed the assumption that the Heat were after Deng early this morning.
ESPN sources also say that Miami is making progress in its pursuit of Luol Deng to team him with Chris Bosh and soon-to-reupped Dwyane Wade
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 12, 2014
Losing James is a disaster for Miami, of course, but signing a player of Deng’s unique quality after Bosh’s return would certainly help to further ease that pain. Deng played inspired basketball for the Chicago Bulls last season before being dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a salary-shedding move. Though it stands to reason that the Heat will play a drastically different style without LeBron, Deng at least partially replicates his unmatched versatility and remains one of the league’s preeminent defenders. Big-picture: a nucleus of Bosh, Wade, and Deng would assure a playoff spot in the East.
The question now comes down to price. Wade will surely be paid handsomely after Bosh received a max deal, though the details of his coming contract are yet to be made public. Deng reportedly commanded a salary of $10 million at free agency’s outset when capped-out teams like the Heat – this was when LeBron was staying – came calling. Miami could very well have that much room under the salary cap to sign Deng outright; the only players they’re financially committed to at this point are Bosh, Norris Cole, Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger, and presumably Wade.
It would be beneficial for Riley and company, however, if they could work out a sign-and-trade with the Cavs to acquire Deng’s Bird Rights. It’d have taken wild optimism to believe that Dan Gilbert would ever make a deal that would help Miami before yesterday, but we’re living in a far different world 24 hours later. Still, as Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick notes, a S&T for Deng could prove difficult even if the Cavs are amenable due to the moving parts of both teams.
The timing and numbers are tricky. And Cleveland needs to cooperate. But a S&T for Deng creates much more flexibility for Miami.
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 12, 2014
Regardless, signing Deng would be a major boon for Miami. Riley doesn’t re-build, and bringing another All-Star caliber player aboard would ensure that the Heat remain a lukewarm Eastern Conference threat despite James’ departure, a proposition that seemed a faraway dream immediately following his announcement.
Would the Heat be a playoff team with Deng?
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