Independence, Ohio • With their season quickly sliding toward yet another trip to the NBA lottery, the Cleveland Cavaliers had to do something to slow their freefall toward irrelevance.
They needed a scorer, a defender, a leader, and perhaps most importantly, someone to show their young players how to win.
Luol Deng fills every hole.
The Cavs acquired Deng, a two-time All-Star small forward with Chicago, early Tuesday in a trade from the Bulls for Andrew Bynum, the enigmatic center whom Cleveland signed to a unique contract during the summer but recently dismissed for detrimental conduct.
In Deng, the Cavs believe they’re getting a multi-faceted player.
"He’s a guy who has won and won deep in the playoffs," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "He has the ability to score, defend, moves well without the basketball, knows how to play offense very well, can post up, score off the screens, versatile. He brings a lot of everything."
Cleveland also gave Chicago a first-round pick from Sacramento, two second-round selections and gave the Bulls the right to swap first-round choices in 2015 if the Cavs are not in the lottery.
The Bulls are expected to release Bynum, who has chronically bad knees and has played just 24 games the past two seasons. Bynum is due another $6 million on the two-year, $24 million contract he signed with Cleveland in July, but the Bulls won’t have to pay him if he’s released by Tuesday afternoon.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert vowed the team would never be in the lottery again after it picked first last year. But at just 11-23, the Cavs, who have dropped eight of nine heading into Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia, are on their way to missing the postseason again.
Deng, though, could prevent that. The 10-year veteran brings an abundance of talent to a young Cavs team that never adjusted to Bynum and has been beset by other personality issues in their locker room.
"We’re bringing in a player who’s an All-Star in him prime, who epitomizes all the things that we’re trying to build as a foundation with this young group of players," Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant said. "He fits a position of need, has a winning background, leadership. Obviously he comes from a strong defensive system. He has a strong defensive presence himself, leading scorer of his team. So it’s an exciting time for us."Next Page >
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