Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luol Deng doesn't want to be portrayed as unhappy, but he's clearly just that after a report said he thought the locker room situation in Cleveland was "a mess." Deng told the Akron Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd that he doesn't want his teammates to feel as if he's complaining about them behind closed doors.
"I've never been in a situation where I start talking and turn my back on what's in front of me. It's not me, it's not who I am," Deng said. "I'm really upset that's written about me and I just hope guys within the team understand that. It's something we don't need right now."
Deng's need to express his willingness to work through a losing situation with the Cavaliers comes days after the New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence wrote that Deng was taken aback by the locker room culture in Cleveland. Lawrence cited a source close to Deng, who said the Cavs forward believed a number of things going on between the young players in Cleveland would never be tolerated under his old coach, Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls.
Lloyd backed up the Daily News reports of dissension in the locker room. The issues range from complaints about head coach Mike Brown and his staff, to younger players getting away with bad attitudes. Players anonymously told Lloyd that they're receiving "mixed messages" from the coaching staff, and recently, guard Dion Waiters was kicked out of practice but wasn't punished by any loss of minutes.
Deng, who was traded from the Bulls to the Cavs on Jan. 7, has watched the Cavs lose six of their last seven games.