Can we lure Luol Deng to Toronto?

Mar 25, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luol Deng (9) scores between Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) and forward Chuck Hayes (44) during the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Luol Deng, a power forward who’s an Unrestricted Free Agent, was voted by you as the most desirable UFA on the market. Can we construct a scenario in which he will join the Toronto Raptors next season? We won’t know unless we try.

Deng is a 29-year-old veteran of 10 NBA seasons and 677 games, all but 40 of which were played with the Chicago Bulls. He was moved to Cleveland halfway through last season, but his presence was not enough to propel a playoff run. [20-second timeout: the trade was one of those only-in-the-NBA specials, whereby aging Chicago received a whack of much-needed draft picks, and underachiever deluxe Andrew Bynum, whom they promptly waived. Shades of Rob Babcock paying Alonzo Mourning not to play as a result of the Vince Carter trade.] Whether Deng wants to resign with a Cavs teams that’s committed to youth is problematic; he’s been quoted as saying he’d prefer to find a contending team.

Deng is a mobile 6’9″ 220 lbs. bundle of energy. His career stats are amazingly consistent, and we could practically write in ink that he will score between 15 and 17 points, and grab between 6 and 7 rebounds, every night. Comparing him to our current starter at Power Forward, Amir Johnson, we’re likely to bump our scoring by at least 4 points per game, without giving up much. Deng is a fine defender, both on the ball and helping. Luol is not a stretch-4. Although he can hit the 3-ball (.329 career average), coach Dwane Casey isn’t likely to draw up any plays for Luol outside the arc.

All of this skill, and his positive intangibles, won’t come cheap. Deng received over $14M last season, and probably won’t be happy getting much less. Whether deep-pocketed teams will be interested in ponying up that kind of dough for someone with the pounding he’s taken in his career is difficult to know. I doubt the Raps would go much over a 3-year deal paying him around $11M per season. That’s likely the kind of money Kyle Lowry will be offered.

There’s an interesting aspect to the Raps’ (presumed) pursuit of Deng. Luol was born on the African continent, but carries a British passport. Is it conceivable that he would look on playing in Canada, a Commonwealth nation, as less of a step down than American players sometimes do? (Furthermore, could the fact our GM, Masai Ujiri, is a Nigerian native now firmly ensconced in Toronto be intriguing to Luol?)

I wondered if a sign-&-trade might be attractive to the Cavs, assuming Deng told them he wasn’t coming back. Someone’s got to play for Cleveland who isn’t a beardless youth. If we move Landry Fields, Chuck Hayes and Tyler Hansbrough, the trade is successful, and Luol gets the same kind of money he’s been getting. I always get a kick out of what the Machine’s algorithm says the result will be. For the Raps – no change! For Cleveland – a loss of 3 games.

What do you think, Rapture Nation? Should we pursue this guy, or let someone else overpay? Let me know in the Comments.

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Luol Deng Masai Ujiri Toronto Raptors

  • Tai Mai Shu

    If he really wants a shot at a title, I think he would be perfect fit for the grizzlies.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi TMS:
      Really? Don’t the Grizzlies have all the big men they need? I doubt Deng would go anywhere he wasn’t promised a starting gig. Who would he bump in Memphis? Z-Bo or Gasol? I don’t think so.
      Assuming Lowry comes back, Toronto would be a great fit for a championship-hungry Deng.
      Thanks for commenting.

      • dw

        Deng is an SF………..

        • Guest

          sorry i just realized the article mislead you..but seriously everyone knows Deng is an SF

      • ImFromTdotBitches

        what is wrong with you?… he takes the SF spot… cuz thats what he is!

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Nothing’s wrong with me, other than I get cranky when people over-react to something. If you don’t want him described as a PF, fine – he’s a second SF. As I wrote in an earlier reply, I see Deng taking Amir Johnson’s spot in the starting rotation, not TRoss’.
          The issue is how to make a tempting offer to him and/or to Cleveland, not whether he’s a SF or PF.

          • YAHsaves777 .

            Did anyone mention that Deng is a SF? …..sorry couldn’t help it just messing with you Brian

          • Newmarket_Brian


          • ImFromTdotBitches

            its fine that you think he’ll take amir johnsons spot if he comes to the raptors… but you just said if he goes to memphis he would be trying to take z-bo or marc gasol’s spot… which makes me believe that you think he would play power forward on any team… if he went to memphis he would be taking tayshaun prince’s SF spot… it really doesnt sound like you know what it is youre talking about… come on

          • Newmarket_Brian

            I’m not sure what your point is, nor do I know why you want to focus on the Grizzlies. Tayshaun Prince isn’t being replaced by Luol Deng; Prince has another year on his contract, and is still a useful defender who can score when needed. The Grizzlies had a 50-32 record, so they are doing more right than wrong. The reason they flame out of the playoffs year after year is their backcourt, not their big men.
            FWIW: no, I don’t think Deng could play PF anywhere, and didn’t say so. In the specific case of the Raptors, having 3 capable swingmen would drive opponents nuts. We could always bring Amir or 2Pat off the bench if the bad guys’ traditional PF is hurting us, but I bet we’d outscore most teams with Deng on board.

  • Rapsguy

    1) Deng is a SF. He didnt even play any minutes at PF for Chicago or Cleveland, ever.

    2) Amir Johnson is a better INTERIOR defender than Deng and better at defending the big man man on the pick and roll.

    3) If we re-sign Lowry then we simply cannot afford Deng unless MLSE is willing to go into the luxury tax.

    4) How do you possibly have a job writing about the Raptors when it is evident that you know nothing about them.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      I’ll stack my knowledge of the Raptors up against yours or anyone else’s. I’ve been a season seat
      holder since Day 1. During that time I’ve seen hundreds of games, and talked hoops with everyone from Larry Tanenbaum to Dwane Casey to Butch Carter to Jonas Valanciunas to Alvin Williams to Nav Bhatia to Rob Babcock. How about you?
      I call Deng a Power Forward because in the Raps lineup I envision, that’s where he goes. He
      replaces Amir Johnson, not Terrence Ross. Now we have a mobile smallish lineup well-suited for the modern NBA.
      As for going into the luxury tax: I was at a pre-season Raps event in which Tim Leiweke told the attendees that he had warned the MLSE board to expect a request for extra funding (i.e., going into the luxury tax) when the team was ready to win. I’d say that time is pretty close.

      • Ian De Vera

        No need to be so defensive, your articles are fine. While I do see what you mean by “I call Deng a Power Forward because in the Raps lineup I envision, that’s where he goes.”, not everyone knows you and most know Deng as a natural small forward so they can’t assume what you meant to say unless you specified it. With that said, I do agree Deng would fit better at the PF position with our team. While he is a defensive upgrade at the 3, he is not as good a shooter as Ross. On the other hand, Deng would definitely open things up for his team mates at the 4 spot. Thanks for the article.

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Hi Ian:
          I’ve been writing daily posts about the Raps for close to 2 years now, and this is the first time I can remember a “tempest in a teapot” of this kind. Your point is well taken about being more clear, and I will do everything I can to ensure there is no repeat.
          I’m glad you think my articles are fine. I’m perfectly happy if people don’t like a trade proposal, but I get cranky when my overall credibility is questioned.
          Assuming TRoss returns to the team a better shooter, the presence of Deng will make his life (and DeMar’s) a whole lot easier. Who will the opponents cover? They will have to pick their poison.
          Thanks for commenting.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      I’ll stack my knowledge of the Raptors up against yours or anyone else’s. I’ve been a season seat
      holder since Day 1. During that time I’ve seen hundreds of games, and talked hoops with everyone from Larry Tanenbaum to Dwane Casey to Butch Carter to Jonas Valanciunas to Alvin Williams to Nav Bhatia to Rob Babcock. How about you?

      I call Deng a Power Forward because in the Raps lineup I envision, that’s where he goes. He replaces Amir Johnson, not Terrence Ross. Now we have a mobile smallish lineup well-suited for the modern NBA.

      As for going into the luxury tax: I was at a pre-season Raps event in which Tim Leiweke told the attendees that he had warned the MLSE board to expect a request for extra funding (i.e., going into the luxury tax) when the team was ready to win. I’d say that time is pretty close.

  • Jensan

    S &T is not viable unless you convince the Cavs to take a player , maybe Novak – but you would have to give a 4/44 for Deng . You would have to renounce all your cap list except for KL and either PP or GV , so that you would be making a decision of signing Deng and if you decide to keep GV as your backup.
    You keep KL,DD, Deng, Amir, JV -41.5
    GV,TRoss , Fields, 1st round Pick, Hayes, PP -22.5
    The only way you can keep both RFA is to trade Novak somewhere.
    1-2nd round pick, sign Jordan Hill / okafor or Aldrich split up under the MLE.
    Drop Salmons, Hansbourough, Decolo, Buycks and Stone. Buyout costs including Camby is 2.646 million. Total spent for 2014/15-72.65.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Jensan:
      Doesn’t the trade I proposed make the money work for all sides?

  • bcjay

    Oh, good… We all caught yhe fact that luol is a sf. Is he worth it? Can he slow LBJ down? There is no sure fire answer, but I would prefer to see him guarding Joe Johnson than DD or TRoss. If he’s available he does play the position that we need to tweak.
    He would be a great acquisition.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi bcjay:
      Perhaps I should have stated in the post that I envision
      Deng taking Amir Johnson’s spot in the starting lineup, not Terrence Ross’. I
      thought about it, then decided I had too many words as it was. I’m consistently
      astonished by how much store people place in position titles. Unless I call
      Kyle Lowry a Centre, I don’t see how it matters.
      Deng would indeed be a great acquisition.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Harun Said

    The question is how far can Dang? 2nd Round. ECF, NBA finals? Will he help the development of our draft pick if its a SF like Cleanthony Early? How much does he want to be paid?

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Harun:
      In the post, I guessed that Deng won’t come for less than 3 years @ $11M each. Maybe a fourth year at slightly less would be intriguing, so an offer of 4/42 might do it.
      In terms of helping his new teammates: from everything I know about him, he’s all about enhancing lives.
      As to how far he can take the Raps: ECF, at least.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Jesse Freeston

    I really hope we somehow get Deng AND Lowry on the floor next year, but some of these points are ridiculous, especially this one…

    “Could the fact our GM, Masai Ujiri, is a Nigerian native now firmly ensconced in Toronto be intriguing to Luol?”

    - No. Deng is Sudanese, raised in Egypt and the UK. So, unless you know for a fact that he has Pan-African cultural or political leanings then this is as dumb as suggesting that Jeremy Lin might be more likely to enjoy listening to Gangnam Style because his parents are from Taiwan.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Jesse:
      I’m aware that Deng is Sudanese by birth, and noted that in my previous day’s post about him “winning” our Poll as most desired free agent.
      Your Jeremy Lin metaphor doesn’t work. Gangnam is a suburb of Seoul, South Korea, and PSY is from SK. There’s no Chinese connection.
      Deng & Ujiri know each other from trips to Africa, so both men have Pan-African leanings.
      Maybe my points are not so ridiculous after all?

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Jesse Freeston

        Thanks for clearing that up. But the point of the Gagnam Style was precisely that PSY is from Korea and Lin’s parents are from Taiwan (different countries in Asia, like Sudan and Nigeria in Africa).

        The Globe article is interesting because it shows that they know each other and have worked together. Maybe this personal relationship could actually help bring him here. Assuming they enjoyed each other’s company and Ujiri never screamed “Fuck Sudan!!!” on the tour bus. Haha.

        • Newmarket_Brian

          Hi Jesse:
          I suspect Masai’s “F___ Brooklyn” moment was a one-off. I’ve been in large- and small-group sessions with him, and he’s a very careful speaker.
          As to the Asia point – OK, fine.

  • jakdripr

    I like the idea, we need some actual veterans on our team(salmons ain’t no veteran) and he’d definitely help improve us defensively at what is probably our weakest position. Is he going to be our power/small forward for the future? Probably not, but I think he can help our younger players develop while also taking our team forward in the playoffs.

    Not sure who he’d replace in the starting lineup, my original thought was Ross, but I can see us playing only 1 big(JV) and bringing Amir off the bench to play with vasquez. Of course this would probably mean 2pat wouldn’t be coming back.

    Either way for the right contract(3 years 11 mil) I would be happy to see deng on our team.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi jakdripr:
      I don’t know what decisions Masai is going to make, but I’m pretty sure one of them will be waving good-bye to Salmons.
      Yes to Amir off the bench. He can give JV a rest without hurting our interior defense.
      Ross starts!
      Bring back 2Pat, somehow. We’ll miss him terribly if we don’t. Likewise Vasquez.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Gary73

    I like, but I have never seen Deng classed as a power forward, certainly with Bulls he was the 3. Doesn’t much matter, he would be valuable in big and small ball lineups.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Gary:
      I’m liking him in a small starting lineup – in effect we have no PF at tipoff, but 3 killer swingmen.
      Deng is a hard-working veteran with a lot of game still in him.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Meka Ib

    Loul Deng is not worth it. Period. Haven’t we learned enough already. Jermaine Oneal, Hedo Turkoglu, Shawn Marion, they all came and went, and were all past their prime. Who knows if Loul will average 15-17 per game. I say more or less 15ppg max. You should have highlighted his stats when he played in Cleveland. Not really impressive. He needs to want to come here, a Trade wont do it for me or this city. Im sure my fellow intelligent raptor fans know that the winning formula is through the Draft, and Masai has highlighted that.

    Look at what Sam Presti has done in OKC. Now thats a Genius.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Meka:
      Your comments have merit. However, I’m going to challenge them somewhat.
      I agree the winning formula is through the draft, and we’ve been there & done that for years now. Last season’s success was predicated on the emergence of several of Bryan Colangelo’s selections, including JV & DeMar. Assuming TRoss continues to develop, we’ve got a significant core of starters for years to come. Note that Kyle Lowry arrived via trade. The draft provides the foundation, but free agents and those coming in trades top off the building.
      Believe me, if I thought Deng was washed up, I’d argue strongly against signing him. I’m not worried about his Cleveland stats. A mid-season trade is tough on a player; he didn’t flop.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • AM

    I would love to see Deng here. When I think of trades I think of player calibre and character before figuring out the finances. Deng is one of the most solid wing players in the league and has been for many years. He’s a threat on offence and works hard on D. He’ll be able to stretch opposing teams D even more with his ability to shoot and take someone off the dribble; which creates more space for everyone else, especially the 5 man because of the other players around Deng (DD, Ross, KL). You could have 4 players who can shoot and take you off the dribble with JV in the post. Not to mention those are 5 team-oriented players who would be willing to make the pass. Good luck guarding that.

    I like the idea of the sign and trade. Those listed are players that I think most would agree are on the not-staying list anyway. It’s whether or not the Cavs would want/take them.

    If that didn’t work out, Leiweke did say that the money would have to come at the right time. What better time than now? The entire NBA fan base has heard of the awesome crowd in Toronto and that they’re on the upside. They had the highest playoff prices (from what I heard) and still sold out to an inspired crowd.

    Man some of these comments… I commend you Brian for maintaing politeness.

    My rebuttals…

    I don’t see the Grizzlies as a contending team. They seem to be stuck in playoff mode (which is good, but that’s it). If someone is considering Memphis, I’m sure they would listen to Toronto offers. An upcoming team which showed amazing fan support to show it’s a great environment to play in. When I think of big market, international cities with a diverse culture I don’t think of Memphis.

    Yes, I think that Nationalities can come in to play. Ujiri and Deng know each other from the African camps they have both attended (or was it BBall without boarders?). Someone from a similar, albeit not the same, background is telling me how he enjoys the city in which they currently live and the conditions of the team, I’d listen (not to mention he’s also the GM).

    All of those nit-picking at positions; there are a lot of options if Deng were to be on the roster. As Brian mentioned he’s a wing player, but putting him at PF could work too. Going small would be really fun to watch and the overall height and athleticism would match well against what a lot of teams are doing now. I agree with that he could replace Amir. As much as I like him, Amir can get a little lost in the match ups. I think most would agree, he would not complain or show any less effort or production coming off the bench.

    Comparing Deng to previous acquisitions like Hedo, Marion, and O’Neal I don’t think has any merit of an argument. That’s like saying the franchise tried to make trades in the past based on a players value but it didn’t work out so therefor we shouldn’t make trades. Every team in the league has made trades that didn’t work out. Deng is nothing like those players listed in the comment.

    To those idiots making comments of Brians knowledge of the team – do you have a blog spot linked to SI? Didn’t think so. I even saw the guy on TV at Raptor events asking questions to the Raptors brass. They guy probably knows more about the franchise than ownership and any of us fans chirping in.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi AM:
      Thanks much for the kind words. They are greatly appreciated.
      I’ve never understood why fans can’t disagree without lapsing into schoolyard insults. Mercifully, most members of Rapture Nation don’t, so I keep going.
      That time on TV you mention was the same event in which Leiweke pledged that money would be available when needed. I agree with you – I think our time is now.
      Yes, the notion that we shouldn’t trade because a few trades didn’t work out is short-sighted in the extreme.
      I look the idea of a Deng S & T more and more. Once Lowry is re-signed (please!), Masai will have a better handle on his salary cap. For the time being, he has to stay flexible.
      Thanks for your lengthy and thoughtful comments.