Here’s the first tailspin of free agency. According to Yahoo’s super reporter in Adrian Wojnarowski, the Clippers are one of the first teams to get in contact with unrestricted free agent Luol Deng.
Clippers have called on Luol Deng tonight, source tells Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2014
What does the interest in Deng mean? The Clippers aren’t shying away from their need to improve the small forward position. Matt Barnes did an excellent job after signing a three-year deal, but Doc Rivers would prefer if he came off the bench; Jared Dudley failed to live up to expectations; and Reggie Bullock, the rookie, was rarely ever given playing time.
Adding Deng to the roster would give the Clippers the perfect small forward. While LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony are dream fits, there would have to be damage done to the roster in order to acquire one of the two biggest free agents available on the market. With Deng, a player who can guard the opposing teams best player and can create his own shot, it would likely cost the full mid-level exception or a salary dump (Dudley, Barnes, Crawford) to clear space for a $8-$10 million deal.
Traded for Andrew Bynum in a salary dump, Deng averaged 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
According to reports, the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, and Atlanta Hawks are also interested in Deng.