Cavs GM Chris Grant Sees Luol Deng As Part Of Young Core Moving Forward
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INDEPENDENCE (92.3 The Fan) – Now that the Andrew Bynum saga has reached it’s point of conclusion for the Cleveland Cavaliers, attention at the Cleveland Clinic Courts turned to the Cavs’ newest acquisition, forward Luol Deng, traded by the Chicago Bulls to Cleveland for the contract of Bynum and future draft considerations early Tuesday morning.
Cavs general manager Chris Grant could not hide his enthusiasm for adding a player that he has coveted for quite some time.
“We’re obviously extremely excited,” Grant said. “We’re bringing in a player that is an all-star in his prime and epitomizes all the things we’re trying to build as a foundation with this young group of players, fits a need, has a winning background, leadership. He comes from a strong defensive system. He has a strong defensive presence himself. (He was the) leading scorer of his team. It’s an exciting time for us.”
Averaging 19.0 points per game this season, Deng is a unique talent that brings length, athleticism, the ability to defend and score, something the Cavaliers greatly needed.
“They’re hard to find, guys that can score on one end and defend on the other,” Grant said.
Speculation is now underway as to the team’s long-term view of Deng – a free-agent following the season. Would the Cavaliers prefer to resign the 10th-year player to a multi-year deal at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 campaign?
“We’d like to keep him here long-term,” Grant said. “At 28 years old, we see him as part of our core and our youth moving forward. We’ll get through the season and get to those conversations at the appropriate period of time.
“We felt like this is a player that we can add to our group that is a position of need that can help us in the short term and the long-term.”
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the Cavaliers can offer Deng a three-year extension prior to July 1st. The team could offer Deng a five-year extension after that date.
In the meantime, Deng should instantly help correct some of the shortcomings of a Cavs team that has greatly underachieved this season. Instead of discussing possible playoff seeds, the goal at the start of the season, the team is 11-23 and still searching for an identity.
“It’s been an interesting season already,” Grant said. “Our guys are learning how to win games… He’s a guy that we bring in and he’s going to impact that.
“At the same time, this is someone that we’re adding in his prime to our core that can continue to help us build that winning foundation.”
So what does his addition do for team morale?
“Bringing him in shows these guys we’re serious about making the playoffs,” coach Mike Brown said.
“We’re trying to win basketball games and make the playoffs,” forward Tristan Thompson said. “(Deng) wants the same thing. It’s exciting”
The Cavs are hopeful Deng will arrive in Cleveland on Tuesday but the cold weather may push it back to Wednesday. At this point, the organization’s goal is to make sure Deng is comfortable and acclimated to his new surroundings before seeing game action.
That means he is not likely to play Tuesday night vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.
Bynum Case Closed
The acquisition of the 28-year-old forward closes the book on the Bynum experiment in Cleveland. After being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, it appeared the entire experience was a failure.
However, Grant is focused on the positive that came from signing Bynum.
“I don’t necessarily think anything went wrong,” Grant said. “We were able to turn his contract into Luol Deng. I’d say that was a good thing.”
“It turns out (Bynum) wasn’t a great fit, and that’s okay. We wish him the best. I hope he continues to play but that’s his decision.”
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