Free-agent small forward Luol Deng is reportedly being eyed by the Washington Wizards, per NBC Sports.
"The Wizards, after their second playoff-series win since 1982, are putting a big emphasis on continuity.
"Randy Wittman -- retained.
"Andre Miller -- returning.
"Marcin Gortat -- re-signing.
"That leaves Trevor Ariza as the biggest asset hanging in the wind.
"Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Washington Wizards have talked to free agent Luol Deng, but still determined to re-sign Trevor Ariza, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 9, 2014
"David Aldridge of NBA.com:
Meanwhile, Trevor Ariza seems to be everyone's backup plan. Wizards want to re-sign him but SF $ is exploding & WAS won't go past $9M/yr.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 10, 2014
"At one point, Ariza seemed close to re-signing with the Wizards. But he has plenty of other suitors. Once Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony sign, Ariza will draw plenty of attention.
"I'm confident he can get more than $9 million per year if he plays his cards right. Heck, he can probably play his cards wrong and get more than $9 million per year.
"Deng is another second-tier free agent small forward waiting for LeBron and Melo to sign. Like Ariza, Deng could get a pretty high salary, as several teams are interested.
"However, after committing $12 million per year to Gortat, the Wizards can probably offer Deng only the mid-level exception. Maybe they can increase that offer slightly with a little creativity, but still wouldn't be enough for me to take Deng to Washington seriously.
"Unlike with Deng, the Wizards have bird rights to exceed the cap to sign Ariza. They can theoretically offer him anything up to a max contract.
"Undoubtedly, the Wizards want to re-sign Ariza. I think they'll ultimately have to offer more than $9 million per year, but they can wait a little to let the market establish itself.
"However, Washington simultaneously courting Deng shouldn't worry Ariza. Ariza, an unrestricted free agent, has the leverage here."
"The Bulls claim to be committed to goosing the roster and changing the movie of Derrick Rose's second major comeback from knee surgery in as many years. But the prospect of bringing back Deng, the two-time All-Star who toiled longer and harder than any Bulls player over the past decade, hasn't garnered a blip on the radar.
"Blame the baggage. The steamer trunk in that set came in January, when the Bulls came at Deng with a 1-2 punch in a hurried-up bit of contract-extension negotiating. They offered him a reported three-year, $30 million deal that wasn't so much take-it-or-leave-it as it was take-it-or-leave-US; when Deng declined, he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for draft picks and payroll relief via Andrew Bynum's contract.
"It was an abrupt parting considering all Deng and the Bulls had been through together, his status as one of the team's leaders, his skill set and the way Tom Thibodeau relied on him every way an NBA coach can. The locker room shook that day, emotional center Joakim Noah went into a temporary funk and, on heels of Rose's latest injury six weeks later, it looked like a tank job and felt even worse...
"...Meanwhile, Deng has options and offers that could increase once James and Anthony make up their minds. He met on July 4 with Miami's Pat Riley and was told Monday, through (Chicago-based agent Herb) Rudoy, that the Heat's agreements with Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger don't lessen their interest in Deng.
"Deng spoke with (Los Angeles) Clippers coach/exec Doc Rivers last week and had conversations this week with Atlanta (Hawks) coach Mike Budenholzer and Washington GM Ernie Grunfelf. (The) Dallas (Mavericks), Toronto (Raptors) and (Los Angeles ) Lakers also are said to be interested."
The 29-year-old Deng is entering his 11th NBA season. He has averaged 16.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 677 career regular-season games through July 11, per ESPN stats.
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