The Miami Heat are already making a run at major names in free agency to surround LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Pat Riley has called Luol Deng and shown “significant interest” in acquiring the two-time All-Star.
Miami's Pat Riley has called Luol Deng's reps and registered his significant interest, source tells Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2014
It’s unclear how much the Heat would be willing to offer Deng; most of that, obviously, will depend on salary numbers of Miami’s Big Three. Deng is coming off a six-year, $71 million deal he signed in 2008, and is surely in line for a pay decrease. He still has immense value as a versatile defender and ancillary playmaker, but the 29 year-old Deng is no longer considered a franchise centerpiece. And for each of those reasons, actually, he’s an ideal fit for the Heat.
Whether or not that means he’ll take less money than he could theoretically command to play with a contender remains to be seen. Wojnarowski previously estimated Deng’s value on the open market at $10-12 million per season.
Reports surfaced earlier today that the Big Three would be patient as Riley scoured the free agency market in hopes of significantly upgrading the talent surrounding them. With the contracts of James, Wade, and Bosh apparently “set,” the Miami front office surely has an idea of how much cap space it will have available. And if the Heat’s interest in a player of Deng’s caliber is any indication, it’s likely a sizable amount.
Would Deng be a good fit for the Heat?
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