Mavs Want Deng - Or Want Him To Stay Put

Along with other possible matches with Cleveland, the Mavs are investigating the Luol Deng idea on two fronts. Dallas has Deng-related hopes for this week ... and then, as long as he's either a Cav or a Mav by Thursday evening, millions of dollars worth of hope for this summer.

The bluffing out of the Luol Deng camp came immediately after his recent trade from Chicago to Cleveland, as agent Herb Rudoy told anyone who would listen that they could be expected to sit down with Cavaliers ownership to discuss a contract extension that will keep him in Cleveland long-term.

That was always baloney.

And the Dallas Mavericks know it.

The talented Deng is a Dallas trade target now (yes, the Mavs have touched base with Cleveland on a variety of ideas, is told, Anderson Varejao among them.) And Deng will be among Dallas' targets when he is a free agent in the summer. Assuming he stays with the Cavs, it's a too-little-known rule that makes his summer free agency a certainly:

After having been traded, Deng is only 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.

Why would anyone take a two-year extension in Cleveland when a five-year deal is looming? And, next question, is Deng disgruntled enough with the disarray in Cleveland that he'd spurn the five-year offer to take four elsewhere?

The possibility exists. And Dallas wants this 6-9 two-time All-Star with a worker-bee reputation and 19 points and seven rebounds per game to be on the market. ... or to be theirs now, of course.

And the only thing to prevent that is Cleveland trading him to a new home where he likes it well enough to take that new team's five-year offer.

What an "existing employer'' (presently Cleveland) can offer: $110 mil over five years. What a "new employer'' like Dallas can offer: A deal as large as four years and $85 million, with a first-year salary at about over $19 million.

The Mavs will have that much money available. And will have a high level of interest. But right now, their interest is in hoping Luol Deng goes untraded and therefore available to court this summer.

Unless, of course, Dallas can acquire him before Thursday's deadline. In which case it's the Mavs who can make the five-year, $110-mil proposal.

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