CLEVELAND — While having a record of 12-23 on the hard wood, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off a big win in landing two-time All-Star small forward Luol Deng.
Cleveland, currently in 13th place and 3.5 games out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, pulled off a blockbuster deal in trading center Andrew Bynum to the division rival Chicago Bulls for Deng and future draft picks.
Bynum, who signed a two-year $24.5 million deal, was dealt to the Bulls—and immediately waived—before the trade deadline after being suspended indefinitely for detrimental conduct, landed and filled a valuable void at small forward in Deng, while helping Chicago wipe Deng’s $14.25 million salary off their books
Deng, 28, is averaging career highs in points (19.0), assists (3.7) and averaging 6.9 rebounds, is coming off an Achilles injury. The addition of Deng gives the Cavs a legitimate “three” that will help lend some much-needed scoring punch down low and on the wing.
The former Blue Devil also gives Cleveland some much-needed muscle on defense as he was on the NBA’s All-Defensive second team in 2012. The Cavaliers came out big winners in securing a younger asset in a vital position such as Deng as opposed to a veteran in Gasol (34) who is on the downside of his career.
While some may question the high price in future draft picks for a player in Deng who is set to become a free agent for a top-12 protected pick (Sacramento ’14, for J.J. Hickson, top ten in 2015-16 that turns into a second rounder in ‘17), two second round picks and the right to swap in ’15 with protection from Miami, is a big trade deadline win for the Wine and Gold and hopefully is exactly what the Cavaliers need in the present.