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NBA Free Agency: Luol Deng signs with Miami Heat


Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Heat may have lost their chance to win the Eastern Conference 5 straight years with the departure of LeBron James, but they are trying to remain competitive. That included re-signing Chris Bosh (with Dwyane Wade expected to follow) and now filling up that SF hole with an old friend.

After losing LeBron James, the Miami Heat have reached agreement with free-agent forward Luol Deng on a two-year, $20 million contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Deng will likely hold a player option on the 2015-16 season, a source said.

Deng reportedly had slightly larger offers elsewhere (though Woj mentions the lack of Florida income tax which helps that paycheck) but is taking a bit of a risk with a short-term contract for likely-decent team in his age-29 season.

The number is also identical on a yearly basis (again, minus the tax implications) to what the Bulls reportedly offered Deng before trading him in January. The Bulls had sorta-shadily offered him a 3 year, $30m extension as a take-it-or-leave-it (or what I figure, a you-won't-take-this-but-we-can-say-we-tried) offer before dealing him to NBA purgatory in Cleveland.

KC Johnson confirmed today that at the time, the 'tenor' of the negotiations (both in January, and in the offseason prior) was as much of a reason for Deng turning it down than the money. Since then, the saltiness of how that offer was made didn't deter Deng's agent from including the Bulls as a possibility for his client this offseason. That said, I doubt he regrets it since he's made equivalent dollars for a new team that wants him.

Though Deng's numbers suffered in Cleveland, I had figured all along he would make far more in total than $30m on his next contract given the marketplace. He still may get over that amount given his ability to opt-out after next season, but the truth remains that he is not exactly 'cashing in' this time around.

Another interesting thing about this signing is it helps keep the Bulls-Heat rivalry alive. You don't figure Miami to be in that top-tier of the conference anymore (though it's early to even prognosticate tiers, they're below Chicago) but they should be in the playoffs. And having Luol Deng with Chris Bosh makes them even somewhat likeable...oh...wait, there's Dwyane Wade: worst person in the NBA, so forget that.