The Lakers, Mavericks and Bulls, and Spurs are among the possible destinations for the two-time All-Star should he leave Cleveland.
Luol Deng is coming off a disappointing season where he was traded by the injury-hit Bulls to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who went on to miss the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. In a free agent class that is shaping up to be one of the weakest in recent memory, the British-born forward is set to be one of the most enticing players available this summer, if he tests free agency as expected.
Here are a few of his potential landing spots.
Deng has not ruled out re-signing with his current team this offseason, and the Cavs could clearly make use of the small forward. Cleveland have playoff aspirations next year and will want to hold on to the veteran, but his place in the team will hinge on who the team takes with the number one pick in the draft. If the Cavaliers select Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker to be their small forward of the future, expect to see Deng hit the open market.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers will always look to make a splash in free agency if they have the cap space available, and this year Deng may be the pick of the bunch if Carmelo Anthony stays in New York. Deng would be a solid piece as the Lakers look to rebuild their roster, and his high work rate and defensive talents would be particularly valuable alongside an ageing Kobe Bryant.
Dallas almost pulled off the biggest shock of the playoffs this year, taking the Spurs to Game 7 in the first round. With a roster built around Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and a number of valuable role players, Deng would give this group the boost that could take them to the second round and beyond. The Mavs will have plenty of cap space in the coming offseason, and could blow away other teams with a huge offer if they decide that Deng is their man.
San Antonio Spurs
At the age of 29, Deng may decide that at this point in his career it is all about winning a championship, and if there is one place he would be likely to pull it off, it is in San Antonio. Deng would fit perfectly into Greg Popovich’s system as a defensive wing who can shoot corner 3s, and would benefit from endless kick outs from Tony Parker drives. He may need to take a pay cut to fit under the cap, but if it led to his first title it would be well worth it.
A return to Chicago, where Deng spent the first nine years of his career, could well be on the cards. The former all-star’s talents perfectly matched Tom Thibodeau’s defensive system, and with a healthy Derrick Rose Chicago could make another run at a title. However, nbcsports reported that Deng was frustrated with the way that the Bulls’ medical team dealt with a spinal tap that went awry in 2013, and the forward may still hold some hard feelings after being traded last year.