Mavs Will Still Eye Traded Deng As Free Agent

The agent for Luol Deng says now that he's been traded from Bulls to Cavs, Deng will discuss a contract extension to keep him in Cleveland long-term. That's terribly polite of the agent to say ... and it's terribly wrong. The way the rules and money work, there is almost zero chance of Deng extending in Cleveland - and a fine chance for the Mavs to bid in summer free agency.

The Chicago paper has an article on Luol Deng, which begins:

Luol Deng and his camp expect to sit down with Cavaliers ownership and talk about a contract extension that will keep him in Cleveland long-term.

Such conversations with Bulls management came with an agenda, according to Deng's agent, Herb Rudoy, who believes the team purposely low-balled his client to make him walk.

Rudoy told the Sun-Times that last week Bulls general manager Gar Forman offered Deng a take-it-or-leave-it three-year, $30 million contract, knowing the veteran would turn it down.

That sounds like a troubling development for the Dallas Mavericks, who we know will have interest in signing the talented Deng when he is a free agent in the summer.

So what are the odds? Now that he's going to talk with the Cavs about an extension, will he sign one and avoid free agency? Will Dallas get shut out of the process and never be able to make a bid on the 6-9 two-time All-Star who this year is averaging 19 points and seven rebounds per game?

Never fear. Despite what his agent says in the article, an extension has virtually zero chance of happening.

What no one has noted (and most don't even know) is that after being traded, Deng would only be eligible to get an extension of two years onto his contract, if he wants one. (Before the trade, the limit was three.) But if he waits and goes into free agency, he can sign for up to five seasons with Cleveland, or four with any other team.

With that difference in possibilities, those extension talks are going nowhere.

The bigger issue for the Mavs will actually be how much it costs to sign Deng, whose agent went on to admit that they want "a lot of money, that's for sure." How much is "a lot"? That remains to be seen.

But the offers can be significant. He'll be eligible for a deal from any team as big as four- years and $85 mil, and starting at over $19 mil (The Cavs could offer him even more - $110 mil over five years.) Deng will certainly command plenty of interest, but the Mavs can compete at that price level if they want to, as they will have way more than $19 mil in spending room this summer. Since no team (including Cleveland) is expected to offer him nearly that much, there's an opening to get him if the Mavs want him badly enough and can negotiate a deal.

Will they want him enough to sign him at the price needed to get him? Can they negotiate that asking price to one that works for them and get him to come to Dallas? This story gives you the information that the door is staying open and that the Mavs will get a chance this summer at Luol Deng. ... no matter the polite noises now being made by the agent to the contrary.

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