The Miami Heat suffered a huge blow when the game’s best player, LeBron James, decided to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Heat answered by re-signing guard Dwyane Wade and big man Chris Bosh, then inked Cleveland Cavaliers’ free agent forward Luol Deng to a two-year, $20 million deal.
The Heat know Deng can’t replace James but are hoping he can improve enough after a rough year in Cleveland to keep them near the top of the Eastern Conference. Deng is looking to have a big year because he can opt out of the deal and test free agency again after the season.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders explains Deng needs a strong season to cash in in the offseason.
Deng turned down a multi-year extension with the Bulls last season valued at roughly $10 million a season, prompting his trade to the Cavaliers. After a ho-hum showing in Cleveland, Deng got considerable attention as a free agent but did not command that upper tier money his camp expected after several All-Star appearances.
Deng needs to have a strong season in Miami if he hopes to cash in. The structure of his deal with the HEAT allows for him to opt-out in July, something he will likely do if he can out-play his contract.
Deng averaged 16.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 43.1% from the field, 30.2% from three and 79.1% from the charity stripe. Over the course of his 10-year career, Deng has averaged 16.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 45.7% from the field, 32.9% from beyond the arc and 77.3% from the free throw line.
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