Late Monday night the Cavaliers made the most significant improvement to the team that has not come from the draft since the rebuild started in 2010.
LUOL DENG DRIVES ON FORMER CAVALIER ANTHONY PARKER. (Chronicle-Telegram)
Chris Grant has done it again by making a trade that seems almost impossible, too good to be true. Late tonight, ESPN's Brian Windhorst confirmed that the Cavaliers had traded Andrew Bynum for the Bulls 2012-13 All Star small forward Loul Deng, filling the weakest position on the team with an All Star.
We wish Andrew Bynum the best of luck in the future. Conclusion of his brief Cavalier career aside, it was inspiring and just plain fun to watch him fight to return to the NBA, and to play at least a few games at a very high and very impressive level. Perhaps it could have been more, but as it turns out, the contract that he signed gave the Cavaliers the ability to move him for a significant player who will help the team immediately and may play an important role in the future of the franchise.
But let's get serious here. Luol Deng is a really good basketball player. A two time All-Star with a PER of 17.4 and a True Shooting % of .536 who is averaging 19.0 points 6.9 rebounds and a career high 3.7 assists while playing exceptional defense. The players at small forward that he's replacing are the weakest part of the team and the position has been a gaping hole on the roster since the 2009-10 season concluded. For a team with a defense that has begun to gel, adding Deng's defensive skills is a huge boost.
"We are very excited for Luol to join the Cavaliers organization, " said Chris Grant. "We have worked to acquire and maintain flexibility in order to capitalize on opportunities such as this. Luol reflects all that we are striving for in building our team. He’s a tremendous defensive player that can impact the game on both ends of the court with a team first mentality and is a high character leader.”
The assets the Cavaliers gave up included Bynum's deal, which had a option for the team to waive him by Tuesday the 7th, a move that the Bulls are expected to make to save team salary and maintain salary cap space. Also the heavily protected Sacarmento Kings pick that the Cavs got in the JJ Hickson trade, two Portland Trailblazers second round picks and the rights to swap 2015 first round picks, which is protected for picks 1-14.
Deng has, at times, suffered from a nagging left achillies injury which required that he wear a walking boot at the end of December. However, has has played well in his last three games since coming back from the injury and missing a number of games at the end of last month.
It is unclear at this point when Deng will first play for the Cavs, but the Cavs are scheduled to play the Sixers tomorrow at home. When he does, however, it will usher in a new era in Cavalier history, the fans will undoubtedly welcome him, and Deng has the skills remind them of how much they enjoyed watching winning basketball.