When the Cleveland Cavaliers traded center Andrew Bynum and two draft picks to the Chicago Bulls for small forward Luol Deng early in January, they expected to at least contend for a playoff spot this season.
However, the Cavs are still playing uninspired and unmotivated basketball even with the presence of the veteran and rumblings out of Ohio is that Deng is “not happy” in Cleveland, calling the situation “a mess” according to a report from New York Daily News.
“The stuff going on in practice would never be tolerated by the coaching staff or the front office back in Chicago. It’s a mess.” Deng was quoted saying in the New York-based Web site’s interview.
Indeed, the chaos in Cleveland is far from the order in Chicago where Deng played for more than nine seasons.
Deng has witnessed unprofessionalism with some of his teammates in just less than a month suiting up for his new team. There are some players getting thrown out of practice, acting up during the games—taking off their uniforms at halftime and threats of not playing, undermining their head coach Mike Brown and even having some parties the night before a game.
The most recent controversy is during the Cavs’ recent trip to New York where some of the Cavaliers were seen partying in the wee hours of the morning with a game against the hometown Knicks on Friday.
The Knicks beat the Cavaliers, 117-86, later that day for one of Cleveland's biggest and most embarrassing losses of the season.
The Cavs are 25th in the NBA in scoring at 95.8 points per game and 28th in assists (19.8 APG) and 21st in scoring defense (101.7 opponents PPG). Since dealing for Deng, Cleveland is 4-7 and is currently on a four-game winning streak.
Advice for Cleveland: Shape up or ship Deng out and get some value off him. Seeing the culture in Cleveland already, he will definitely bolt out when free agency arrives after the end of the season.
Here are a few trade deals (via ESPN Trade Machine) involving Deng which the Cavs can explore. Note that Deng can only be traded via one-on-one deals,according to the NBA trade rules.
Cleveland-Detroit Trade: Luol Deng ($14.3M) for Josh Smith ($13.5M)
Logic for the Cavaliers: Get value off Deng, who they already gave up two future picks in the deal with Chicago. Smith has the longer term but at least they are getting some talent back because it’s difficult to attract free agents to Cleveland (Ask LeBron James).
Logic for the Pistons: Unload Smith and solve the glut of big men at Detroit. Deng can be a rental for this year, but at least they’d have a more balanced roster.
Cleveland-Phoenix Trade: Luol Deng ($14.3M) for Emeka Okafor ($14.5M) + Future Pick
Logic for the Cavaliers: Both expiring contracts, Okafor’s deal is actually insured so any team that acquires him will have tons of savings. The pick would be a nice add to the continuing rebuild at Cleveland.
Logic for Phoenix: No tanking for the Suns this year, and the addition of Deng will push them a step further in being one of the Western playoff contenders this season.