After reports came out over the weekend that the Cleveland Cavaliers were interested in making a trade for Paul Pierce, there is now speculation that they may be looking at other options for the same position.
Former ESPN employee, Ric Bucher, is reporting that the Cavaliers have an interest in Chicago Bulls' small forward Luol Deng.
The same reasoning for making the Pierce trade applies if Cleveland is actually looking to make this one happen. Deng is a talented player at a position the Cavs have struggled to find talent since they lost LeBron James to free agency. He currently has one year remaining on his contract worth $14.2 million.
Deng, who is 28, averaged 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and three assists per game last season, which are all right about his career numbers. He is an experienced player, who has been part of a winning franchise since he came into the NBA. While he does not provide the name recognition Pierce does, he brings the experience and leadership that could help this young Cavaliers team as they push towards the playoffs.
While Cleveland would likely not elect to resign Pierce due to his age, Deng would be someone they would conceivably offer a contract extension to after the 2013-14 season, providing things go well. He would be a significant upgrade over Alonzo Gee to start at the three position and could play off a point guard like Kyrie Irving, as he has already played with Derrick Rose.
While Deng is a star, he has not yet reached superstar status, which may work in the Cavaliers' favor. He may be willing to stay in Cleveland past the first year, if this trade were worked out, and help a team with a lot of potential to reach the next level.
This potential trade is contingent on a few things. First, the Cavaliers must decide what they want to do with first-overall pick. While many believe they will take Nerlens Noel, this is not a sure bet and they could draft a small forward. If they do this, there would be no point in attempting to acquire Deng or Pierce.
Second, it depends what the Bulls are looking for in return for Deng. There have been reports that the Washington Wizards are interested in the forward and might be willing to part with the number-three pick in the draft. If this is the case, Cleveland should not get involved, as that is too much to pay for Deng.
Finally, if they think that Pierce could be a better option for what they are trying to do this season then it might make more sense to go in that direction.
Whatever the front office elects, it seems that there are quite a few options for the Cavaliers to upgrade and possibly get a star to go along with Irving and their pick, heading into next season.
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