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Report: Cavs may hold off on contract talks with Luol Deng in hopes of pursuing LeBron James

Jan 13, 2014, 10:14 AM EDT

LeBron James Cavaliers Getty Images

When the Cavaliers ridded themselves of an unhappy Andrew Bynum and traded for Luol Deng, it was a short-term decision aimed at helping the team compete for a playoff spot in the miserable Eastern Conference this season.

Deng is an unrestricted free agent this summer, so the deal amounts to nothing more than a half-season rental for the two-time All-Star’s services.

Cleveland can of course discuss a contract extension with Deng that will keep him there for the foreseeable future, but may not do so until some other high-profile free agent options have been exhausted — and that includes checking in with LeBron James.

From Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Luol Deng is open to discussing a contract extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he also understands why the Cavs might want to put off those talks to first focus on trying to sign another All-Star small forward.

LeBron James.

“He’s a great player, why wouldn’t you look at him?” Deng told Yahoo Sports. “If he wants to come back home, that’s great for him and great for this organization. He’s a great player. Why not?

“I’m all right with that. I’m here to do what I can do and be Luol Deng. I don’t really worry about it. I don’t have the mindset that I can control what everyone else thinks. I just do what I can do and try to be the best at what I do.”

Deng also said in the same report he’d be open to discussing a long-term deal to stay with the Cavaliers, although there is something deeply wrong with the team as currently constructed.

Cleveland lost by 44 points in Sacramento on Sunday, and yes, you read that correctly. The Kings rank 27th in the league in defensive efficiency, so they would have trouble beating a D-League team by that much.

A squad featuring Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, and Deng in the starting lineup shouldn’t suffer anywhere close to a fate like this, so it speaks to the problems that have been rumored with chemistry surrounding Irving and his teammates. Mike Brown, who failed in his last stint as head coach with the Lakers, appears to have no control over this Cavaliers team at the moment, either.

Cleveland will of course pursue James in free agency, but he isn’t leaving Miami to come back to a mess like this. If the Cavaliers want to land Deng or any other All-Star free agent this summer, they will need to figure out what the root of the problem is, and act quickly to turn things around.

  1. jcmeyer10 - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    Man, if only Gilbert didn’t sound off on James and just had a, ‘you gotta do what’s right by you’, attitude, I would hold a shred of hope that James goes back to Cleveland.

    Right now, I’d say that percentage is closer to below zero than above.

    • zerole00 - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      I’m neither a LBJ or Miami fan, but I’d be shocked if he left a stable environment like Miami to join the mess that is Cleveland. There were some growing pains for Erik Spoelstra as a coach, but he seems to be a much better one than Mike Brown. Besides, when’s the last time you heard Miami ownership creating a distraction on social media?

      The whole jersey burning when he left Cleveland wasn’t exactly a parting on good terms either.

      • jcmeyer10 - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:26 PM

        That’s what I am saying. The team is a mess, the fans burned his jersey and the owner went HAM on LeBron after he left. I feel like your boss hating your guts is a dealbreaker considering he would instantly bring some stability to that team on talent alone.

  2. knicksmets - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    Watch no one sign with them and they go crawling to Deng and he refuses. They traded for him so sign him for an extension. I don’t think James is coming back and Deng is not that bad. I can’t see this ending very well for them. They have some nice pieces but its questionable if someone better than Deng will sign with them.

    • therealhtj - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      No one with a legitimate choice chooses Cleveland. At least Cleveland fans are realistic so props to you.

  3. timberwolvesbrisin - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    No chance James is coming back in 2014, maybe in 2019-20, but not now. Kyrie Irving is not a guy people are going to want to play with. If they don’t resign Deng, I would be very upset if I were a Cleveland fan. You gave up 2-3 first round picks to sneak into the playoffs in a year with a great draft? Makes no sense, they would have been better off tanking and adding one more piece in the draft.

    • jeffkx - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Agree about Deng. But Jason Lloyd had a nice article about maybe keeping Deng and still going after LeBron. Doubt it happens, but it’s possible.

      http://www.ohio.com/news/top-stories/jason-lloyd-cavaliers-can-court-lebron-james-and-still-keep-luol-deng-1.458754

    • jeffkx - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:52 AM

      And just to clarify, are you saying the Cavs gave up 2 or possibly 3 1st round picks for Deng? Because if you are, they didn’t. The gave up a Kings pick in future years that may become a 2nd, and two second rounders this year.

    • jeffkx - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      My apologies, there is no edit button. The 2nd rounders are in 2015, and 2016 and come from Portland.

  4. tampajoey - Jan 13, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    … and the Cavs will be left with nothing but their dick in their hand again.

  5. azarkhan - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Newsflash to Cleveland: If James wants anybody on the Cavaliers for a teammate, he’ll bring him to Miami.

    • jeffkx - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      Easy to say that, but not likely. The only one on the Cavs who can leave for Miami and who LeBron would want is Andy Varajeo. Dion, Tristan and Kyrie will all be restricted free agents and the only way they can leave is to sign a one year deal going into their 5th seasons or if Cleveland declines to match an offer if the Cavs extend a qualifying offer. If you think Kyrie is going to pass up on $80m+ to sign a one year deal given his injury history you are insane.

    • zerole00 - Jan 13, 2014 at 3:52 PM

      I see where you’re coming from but that all depends on how contract extensions for Bosh, Wade, and LBJ go. Remember, they’re all making about 17Mil this year. I mean if they wanted to they could sign for less (given how much more they make in endorsements), but it could very well be a pride thing as well.

  6. stephenolszewski - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Yeah if the whiff on LeBron and don’t get Deng that sets this franchise back so many more years then it is already

  7. wwttww - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Cleveland, stop it. It’s over. Move on.

  8. pauliewalnuts90 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:31 PM

    Report: Everyone high in Cleveland….

    There’s a reason the saying is a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Instead of worrying about signing Lebron they should be worrying about getting Kyrie Irving to play defense.

  9. cantonbound13 - Jan 13, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    He’s not going back, don’t do this to yourselves Cleveland.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:58 PM

      he’s not going home……he’s not going home………
      sing along everyone

  10. stayhigh_247 - Jan 13, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Let me see, I live in South Beach, I’m winning chips, I have a very good team (most of the time) and I think Im gonna throw all of that away to return to a team owned by a man that let his emotions get the best of him when I left, so we can rebuild. Why not? Mike Browns there, Andersons there, somebody get Delonte West on the phone and get the gang back together for one more run, sounds like the plot to a bad movie.
    Not gonna happen. Book it!

  11. coachjac30 - Jan 13, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    IF James leaves Miami (and that’s a HUGE if) he is going to the Boston Celtics. However, my money is on him staying right there in Miami. The good news for Cleveland is that if hes stays in Miami for another 5-7 years, he will go back and play for Cleveland for a year or two at the end of his career

  12. kwjsb - Jan 13, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    Deng moves to the 4, Lebron Plays the 3 and Triston and Andy play center, where’s the problem?

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