INDEPENDENCE: The hardest part of getting traded for Luol Deng wasn’t the middle-of-the-night phone calls or the chaos of trying to get packed and into Cleveland in time for practice Wednesday.
No, the hardest part was explaining to his mother what a “trade” is and why he was moving from Chicago to Cleveland.
“That was one of the hardest things I had to do, explain to her the organization I’ve been with for nine years no longer wanted me there,” Deng said on his first day with the Cavs. “She couldn’t understand why. She feels like I’m a nice guy. I get along with everybody. She was asking me, ‘Are you not playing well? What’s going on?’ That was the hardest part.”
Deng participated in his first practice with the Cavs on Wednesday and will likely be in the starting lineup at small forward Friday when the Cavs play at the Utah Jazz. Cleveland fans won’t get to see Deng for nearly two weeks since the Cavs are departing on a West Coast trip this week.
Now the question is how long will he remain? Deng is a free agent after the season and acknowledged Wednesday he was upset with how negotiations soured over an extension in Chicago.
He is in the final year of a deal paying him $14 million this season and said he would be open to negotiating an extension with the Cavs, but hedged it by saying he can’t really answer now if it will be a long-term commitment.
“I’m definitely open to talking about (an extension),” he said. “I have no problem with that.”
Deng will wear No. 9 with the Cavs after convincing Matthew Dellavedova to give it up. Deng wore No. 9 in Chicago to honor his mother, who had nine children. Dellavedova will now wear No. 8.