Deng, acquired by the Cavaliers in a January trade with the Bulls, had reportedly rejected a three-year, $30 million extension from the Bulls just before the trade. At the time, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was reporting that the two-time All-Star was looking for what he thought was his market value of $12-13 million per year over four or five seasons. The Heat are telling free agents they have $12-14 million in cap room -- assuming Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade each take pay cuts, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
The Heat will also have to decide whether to give in to LeBron James' demands for a max deal, as he opted out of the final year of his contract to explore free agency. Bosh and Wade are also exploring other options and have given Heat president Pat Riley the cap flexibility to go after another marquee free agent, including perhaps Carmelo Anthony, who announced in June that he would opt out of the final year of his deal with the Knicks to test free agency this summer.
Deng, 28, played 10 years in Chicago, averaging 19 points and 6.9 rebounds in 23 games last season. After the trade, he struggled in Cleveland -- in part due to injuries -- and averaged 14.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 40 games for the Cavaliers. NBA.com reporter David Aldridge tweeted that Deng is in Europe and will wait to see which teams are interested in him before he schedules any visits. The Mavericks, Clippers and Hawks were the first to reach out to Deng when the free agency period officially began at midnight on July 1, Windhorst reported.
Hearing that Luol Deng will not take significantly less than his market value to join Heat — Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 1, 2014
Luol Deng is in Europe, per source, waiting to see what teams are interested. Then he will decide which of those teams to visit. — David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) June 30, 2014
Clippers, Mavericks and Hawks first teams to call Luol Deng tonight. Others have calls scheduled tomorrow. — Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 1, 2014