Deng, 28, is a career 16.2 point-per-game scorer now in his 10th professional season. He's a great locker-room guy, strong defender and high-character individual.
He's also going to want a lot of money this summer.
The Cavaliers have stated their desire to re-sign Deng, but it's unclear right now just how much money he's worth on the open market. We know Deng previously turned down a three-year, $30 million extension with the Chicago Bulls. He won't get a maximum contract like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony will this summer, but team owners are still going to have to make some strong offers to lure Deng to town.
Here are some early factors to consider when talking numbers with Deng:
Iguodala, like Deng, isn't superstar material but does almost everything well and is a complete team player.
Last season with the Denver Nuggets, Iguodala averaged 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists heading into his own unrestricted free agency. The Sacramento Kings originally offered him a four-year, $56 million deal before ultimately withdrawing it.
Iguodala, 29 at the time, settled on a four-year, $48 million with the Warriors.
Deng is a year younger than Iguodala and is averaging 18.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He's proven to be a better scorer and rebounder, and could make the argument that he deserves more than the $12 million annual salary that Iguodala scored.
Leverage for the Cavaliers
Well, there's not a lot.
Deng certainly won't give the Cavs any kind of a discount, nor should he.
Cleveland is 16-29 and likely headed to another lottery. If the Cavs were a legit playoff or championship contender, it would be understandable if Deng would sign for a little less in hopes of winning a title.
Even with Deng, the Cavs are just 4-6. He's played great for them, but the team still lacks any sort of identity or signs of mental toughness.
Cleveland can't sell him on a winning team, or any real plan moving forward. We could easily see changes at general manager and head coach this offseason, not something a big free agent is going to want to commit to blindly.
The Cavs do have talent on the roster, at least. Kyrie Irving is an All-Star starter. Dion Waiters is one of the best bench scorers in the league and Tristan Thompson is a double-double machine already at age 22.
Cleveland can try to sell Deng on all the young talent the roster holds, and stress what a veteran like himself could mean in its development.
Whether or not he buys into that, especially after the way this year is going, remains to be seen.
Leverage for Deng
In future negotiations, Deng holds almost all of the power.
As previously mentioned, Deng owns a strong all-around game, is a great leader and someone every team would love to have in its locker room. At age 28, he can help a team win now, or grow with a young roster to develop its future.
The only factors going against Deng are his durability and the other free agents on the market.
Deng has played in all 82 games exactly one time in his career. He's been dealing with an Achilles injury this season that's caused him to miss a handful of games already. Deng missed practice on Monday because of his Achilles, and looked bothered by it on Tuesday, scoring just six points on 3-10 shooting.
Considering he led the NBA in minutes the past two seasons, durability will be a big concern for teams looking to offer Deng long-term deals.
The other factor that mind hurt Deng is the other free-agent small forwards this summer.
LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gay, Paul Pierce and Danny Granger can all hit the market, likely affecting what teams will be willing to offer Deng.
James and Anthony will sign max deals, and likely end up re-signing with their own teams. Deng should be the next one up on a team's wish list.
So many good free agents at his position will undoubtedly affect his final deal, but by how much?
We know Deng wants more than the $10 million annual salary that Chicago offered.
It's also safe to assume he won't get the $14 million a year he's receiving now, at least not on a four-year deal.
This leaves us somewhere in the $11-$13 million a year range, at either a three- or four-year contract. Cleveland can extend Deng now until June 30 for three years at any number of its choosing. With the way the season is going, however, it would be shocking if Deng didn't wait and test the market.
The Cavs are going to have to come in with a four-year deal in order to persuade Deng to stay with them. There's just no way he would take less years and money to stay in Cleveland with a losing team.
A four-year, $44 million deal would be a good place to start. Deng's agent will undoubtedly ask for more, probably around four years and $52 million, or $13 million a year.
The question is, which side will budge?
Since Deng has most of the leverage, it will have to be the Cavs. They might be able to talk him down to four years and $48 million, provided they bring enough Kyrie Irving highlight tapes to the meeting and Dan Gilbert offers him a stake in Fathead.
Given that a player like Iguodala, who is older and not nearly the scorer Deng is, got $48 million, it would be very surprising to see Deng settle for anything less.
Bottom line, it will take at least $48-$50 million over four years for Deng to stay in Cleveland.
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Greg Swartz is a Northeast Ohio native who covers the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA on the Yahoo Contributor Network and Bleacher Report. You can find a collection of his articles here and join him on Twitter for more NBA news.
- Sports & Recreation
- Luol Deng
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Andre Iguodala