By Jason Lloyd
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: The Cavaliers remain confident they’ll get a deal done in advance of today’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, but what exactly they’ll do remains a mystery.
The team is taking calls on Luol Deng, but would need a first-round pick in return to consider parting with him.
ESPN first reported the Cavs were listening to offers for Deng, who entered Wednesday’s game against the Orlando Magic averaging 14.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in 18 games since the Cavs acquired him in January from the Chicago Bulls.
The Cavs have held informal contract talks with Deng about an extension this summer, when he can be a free agent, but Yahoo Sports reported Wednesday that Deng is adamant about getting to free agency before signing a new deal, which could hinder the Cavs’ ability to make a trade. Under rules within the league’s collective bargaining agreement, the Cavs cannot package Deng with another player to make salaries match. They must trade him by himself since he was acquired less than two months ago.
Former General Manager Chris Grant had shown no inclination to trade Deng until he was fired two weeks ago, so any move involving Deng will be strictly the work of acting GM David Griffin.
Deng has been slowed by an Achilles injury and is shooting 42 percent (36 percent on 3-pointers) with the Cavs.
ESPN reported the Cavs had emerged as frontrunners to acquire the Los Angeles Lakers’ Jordan Hill, but a league source refuted that and insisted the two sides weren’t in discussions over Hill. The Cavs have also been linked in trade rumors to the Lakers’ Pau Gasol and Chris Kaman, but all of those talks seemed dormant as of today.
The Cavs have tried moving the final two guaranteed seasons on Jarrett Jack’s contract, but have found it difficult to move. They had been linked to the Sacramento Kings’ Marcus Thornton and the Brooklyn Nets’ Jason Terry in separate deals for Jack, but those two players were traded for each other Wednesday because the Cavs weren’t interested in the $5 million Terry is owed next season and couldn’t find another taker.
Two league sources believe Terry, struggling through a miserable season, might be finished as a productive player, making the money owed to him next season worse than the two years still coming to Jack.
With so many rumors and whispers surrounding the trade deadline, Cavs coach Mike Brown is doing his best to dismiss the noise.
“It’s business as usual,” Brown said. “My focus is on tonight’s game and trying to find a way to beat the Magic and that’s it. I feel our players are that way, too.”
Anderson Varejao (back) and Dion Waiters (knee) missed Wednesday’s game against the Magic. Varejao has missed the last 10 days with what has been declared a sore back, but the team insists it’s not serious and Brown said it’s the same thing plaguing Tony Parker.
The Spurs have shut down Parker for the foreseeable future with what coach Gregg Popovich described as “variety of maladies.”
As for Waiters, he hyperextended his knee on a dunk in Tuesday’s win against the Sixers. Waiters did not speak to reporters, but wrote on his Twitter account he’ll be fine.
“Thanks for the prayers & concerns nothing is torn thank the man above for that,” Waiters wrote. “Just sore as hell but I’ll be fine.”
Brown has cautioned at times this season that with a team this young, he isn’t sure which team will show up on any given night. But he believes they’re starting to figure out how hard they have to play every night to be successful.
“They’re starting to get a better feel how to play the game the right way offensively and defensively,” he said. “It’s starting to show because the consistency is there. As long as that consistency is there, we should get some pretty good results.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com.