The shoes of LeBron James can’t be filled by a single player, but the Miami Heat made quick work in finding a replacement for the four-time MVP nevertheless. According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, Luol Deng has agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract with the Heat.
Luol Deng has agreed to join the Miami Heat on a two-year, $20 million deal, I can confirm. Big pickup for Heat.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 13, 2014
Amick also reports that the second year of Deng’s contract is a player option.
Pat Riley made Deng his top priority after James announced his decision on Friday. He’d previously tried to coax the two-time All-Star to join the Heat when it was assumed LeBron was returning, but was ultimately rebuffed because of Deng’s salary commands. With an unexpected amount of cap room given James’ departure and the gaping hole he left on Miami’s roster, going after Deng a second time made perfect sense for Riley.
Once the Heat re-sign Dwyane Wade, they’ll suddenly have a very competitive team in place less than 48 hours after it appeared possible Wade and Chris Bosh would follow James out the door. It was assumed immediately following LeBron’s announcement that Bosh would leave Miami for the Houston Rockets, and even Wade – the Heat’s version of Kobe Bryant or Dirk Nowitzki – was being courted by the Chicago Bulls. But Bosh’s surprising decision to remain in Miami put the wheels in motion for a relative recovery from the disaster of losing James, and bringing Deng aboard is the latest step to that process.
Add a re-built Miami team to a suddenly long list of solid teams in the Eastern Conference. The LeBron-less Heat might not be title contenders, but seem poised to act as a thorn in the side of conference favorites at the very least come next spring.
How will the Heat fare in 2014-2015?
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