Cleveland Cavaliers GM Chris Grant Strikes, Trading Andrew Bynum for Luol Deng

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Updated: January 7, 2014

While the majority of Cleveland Cavaliers fans were in bed, general manager Chris Grant was busy acquiring small forward Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls for Andrew Bynum.

After days of speculation surrounded the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers as potential trade partners, Grant decided to make a deal that was much better for his basketball team, without giving up the young assets the Lakers desired. With the likes of Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee playing highly inefficient minutes at the small forward position, Grant went out and got a two-time All-Star, lockdown defender and more than adequate scorer for his lineup.

The terms of the deal were released by ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst on Twitter late at night, stealing a little bit of thunder—at least for the people in Cleveland—from the BCS National Championship post-game. Windhorst stated, “The Cavs will send Andrew Bynum and a draft pick to the Bulls for Luol Deng.” He later clarified the deal, “Bulls did well with picks, will get a 1st rounder the Cavs own from Sacramento, limited 1st swap rights from Cavs in 15, 2 2nd round picks.”

As his tenure has gone on, many Clevelanders have openly criticized Grant for his draft selections. While that is obviously up for discussion, nobody can consider his ability to win in trades.

When you consider the fact that the Sacramento pick is Top 12 protected in 2014, Top 10 protected in 2015 and 2016 and then turns into a second rounder in 2017 if not acquired by then, the deal could end up costing the Cavaliers three second rounders. For those who don’t know, outside of their own second-round selections in the coming years, the Cavaliers are owners of an extra four of them between 2014-2016 (two from Portland, one from Memphis and one from Orlando).

Even if the Kings pick turns into a first-round pick in the next three drafts, the Cavaliers still own their own selections, one from Memphis and one from Miami Heat in that same time period.

By acquiring Deng, the Cavaliers are essentially saying they are making a playoff run now. With the Eastern Conference in shambles, the Cavaliers are just three games out of a playoff spot despite a terrible record. Adding a guy who is averaging 19 points per game this season will help that push considerably.

For his career, Deng has averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. The 6’9” and 220-pound product of Duke was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.

One of the other reasons this trade was so attractive to Grant and the Cavaliers was Deng’s contract status. He is currently making $14.3 million this season, and is set to hit the free agent market following the year. This means the Cavaliers would have first chance to lock up Deng to a long-term deal if they want to keep him. And if not, they haven’t hurt their cap flexibility for the 2014 offseason in any way.

Obviously this team is a long way from being a legitimate Championship contender. But by acquiring a more than adequate small forward for a guy they were going to cut anyways and extra assets, I’m going to have to give Grant an A-plus on this deal already.

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