Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sign the Man? Luol Deng

Sign the Man is back and this week it's time to take a look at an unhappy guy in Cleveland….

Shit, that doesn't narrow it down much. Take two.

Sign the Man is back and this week it's time to take a look at long, defensive-minded small forward from South Sudan who is unhappy in Cleveland.

If you guessed Kueth Duany then you would be the kind of guy I'd love to talk shop with, but you would also be wrong. Kueth's back in Sudan fixing his country. No better man for that tall drink of a job.

The real answer is the 7th pick of the 2004 NBA draft, Mr. Luol Deng, and as one of the best unrestricted free agents on the market, the man is going to have some options.

His History

Over the course of his 10 year career, Luol Deng has been a fantastic role player capable of shouldering the teams load for stretches. His career basic-stat averages are this:

16 ppg/6.3rbg/2.5apg/1.5 stockspg

His metrics reflect the above written stat line showing a PER of 15.8 and a career total of 60.6 Win Shares. He is a 2x NBA All-Star. He was second team All-Defense in 2012. He even showed the decency to go out and win a damn Sportsmanship Award in 2007, which also happened to be his best statistical season having shot 51% from the field.

He plays with the efficiency you would expect from a guy who led a team like Duke to the Final Four. For nine seasons, he performed, entertained and impressed the Chicago Bulls organization and its fans in a professional way. He was the How I Met Your Mother of athletic wings.

But then….


I recall one time being in an airport and overhearing a male flight attendant say "Never stay at the Comfort Inn in Toledo" and since then my vision of Northern Ohio has plummeted to a low that rivals Herman Boone's tolerance of fumbling the football. There is no doubt that Deng experienced the permanent dark cloud south of Lake Erie and his performance reflected that. It's now known that he did not enjoy his time in Cleveland, and he has no plans to resign with them this offseason. Despite the pain of leaving Chicago, a place that was his home for nine years, Deng still put up his traditional 15+ PER and averaging around 14 ppg in Cleveland. All that is good and dandy, but while in Cleveland, he lost more than a drunk-father-of-four at the track. At 29, and at the back nine of a very successful career, there is no doubt that Deng will want to to find a team that can not only win, but also not be Cleveland.

His Value

Deng made just over $14 million last year, but it will likely take a miracle or a splash of agent-to-GM extortion for him to match that again for his post-30 contract. Last year, he turned down a 3 year $30 million extension from the Bulls. This suggests that if you want Luol Deng this off-season you need to make him an offer of something north of $10 mil/year, but south of $14 mil/year, unless of course you enjoy overpaying for things, in which case may I suggest a Floyd Mayweather fight?

Nevertheless, Deng has a comrade in Andre Iguodala to point to in negotiating contracts for free agent small forwards around 30. Statistics show that Iggy has been a slightly better player over his career when compared to Deng, but those numbers are inflated due to the fact that Iggy was the go-to player in Philly for much of his career. Iguodala signed a 4 year/$48mil deal with Golden State and earned himself a First Team All-Defense nod. Those numbers are well-within Deng's wheelhouse and is likely what he will be seeking.

What's Going To Happen?

If you recall last season, Igoudala actually took a slight pay cut to play in Golden State. He was apparently an hour away from signing with Dallas, he received a larger offer from Sacramento, but ultimately he really wanted to be a part of Steph Curry-led attack.

This summer, I don't think Dallas is going to let another opportunity to get a veteran wing man to pair with Dirk and Monta Ellis (assuming they both resign) pass. Contract details will largely depend on what happens with Dirk, but recent sources are saying Mark Cuban wants Luol Deng and is going to make a hard sell to get him in early July. Since I am in a predicting mood, I would guess that Deng will get a two year deal worth around to $25mil/year. He has a history with injuries, and if Dallas is going to sandwich him with a potential nucleus of Dirk, Monta and maybe Pau Gasol, then they need long term flexibility. Again it is very hard to say if that is even possible because all four of those players will want hefty money, but his fit and price tag seem about right.

And if he happens to get a slight more than Igoudala's average of $12mil/year, then I can only hope that he sends the surplus back to Kueth Duany and the boys back in South Sudan.

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