The Miami Heat are in the hunt for reinforcements to surround a LeBron James/Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh core, and Luol Deng appears high on their list, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Miami's Pat Riley has called Luol Deng's reps and registered his significant interest, source tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2014
But will Deng make his way to South Beach? Let's unpack this rumor:
Why this makes sense
NBA Free Agency
NBA Free Agency
The Heat are seeking another wing player to take the load off James and Wade. Even though there is positional duplication, Miami's system allows for such players to also play alongside James and Wade if possible. Miami has also shown interest in Washington's Trevor Ariza to fill a similar role.
If the choice is between those two, Deng has a clear leg up. He's more versatile, he has more of a track record of success and has been a thorn in James' side throughout their careers. Deng struggled a bit in Cleveland, but he won't have to do nearly as much with Miami.
Why this doesn't make sense
The Heat are competing with several other teams that can drive Deng's price range up. The Dallas Mavericks have maximum cap space and a hole at small forward should Carmelo Anthony sign elsewhere. The Clippers also called Deng's representatives on the first night of free agency, and while they don't have cap space, they can work out a sign-and-trade. Deng also turned down a three-year, $30 million extension offer from the Bulls prior to January's trade.
It's unclear how much money James, Wade and Bosh have earmarked for improvements, but Deng will surely command a huge slice of it.
Deng is definitely a Heat target, but I'd think he's out of the Heat's price range unless he takes a pay cut.