Free agent forward Luol Deng has agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with the Miami Heat, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 13, 2014
So Deng, having struck out at finding a bigger deal and fit than he found in Miami, will sign what can essentially be a one year contract with the Heat, given that the player option is in Year Two.
It's a minor setback for the Hawks, but a setback all the same, because it looks as if, to a desperate to believe fanbase, that any kind of star power, even the kind of light that a declining Luol Deng can provide, can't be attracted by the organization.
Yes, Paul Millsap chose the Hawks a year ago, and he became an All-Star as coaches took the opportunity to recognize Paul's all around game and workmanlike approach, but even during last free agent season, his wasn't a name discussed often and certainly not someone the casual Hawks fan knew a lot about.
That's not to argue that such things matter in terms of winning games and building a first class organization, but to fans, this is going to be a milestone, a checkpoint, on if the franchise is being taken seriously by the superstars they crave to enjoy.
It's not everything, as San Antonio rarely wins the free agent season and both they and the storied, gotta-be-there, star magnet Los Angeles Lakers both struck out in their attempts to hunt big names this offseason.
We don't know how much Deng was trying to get from other teams, such as the Hawks, Suns, Wizards, Mavericks, but certainly was more than the three years, 30 million he turned down last season from the Bulls. That he signed for that same 10M per is only due to the fact that he is willing to try again next year, plugging that player option into his agreement with Miami.
We postulated that Deng was likely looking for something more along the 12-13 million dollar range, and ESPN's Tom Haberstroh was hearing the same:
Word is Deng's camp was still looking for $12M/year this offseason, but Heat stood at $10M and refused to go long.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) July 13, 2014
We even called Saturday's round of rumors for what they were, an obvious attempt by Deng's representation to try and pull Miami off that 10M number by trying to leverage other team's interest and cap space.
But it was Deng who blinked and took Miami's offer to go for it for a season and see what happens. Miami didn't budge from their number and dared Deng to sign on with Phoenix, Atlanta or wait for Dallas' situation to clear, likely with the warning that Miami's offer wouldn't be there much longer.
So, like the Spurs, Lakers and all the other teams with cap space, the Hawks move onto the next objective, which may or may not include trying to attract someone worthy (in theory, of course) of that 10-11M dollar salary slot.
Or they may choose, as the Lakers did, to simply hold onto the financial flexibility for now, building to the successful core from last season and take advantage of cap-strapped teams looking for someone to facilitate a trade, and accruing more valuable assets in the process.