The Cavaliers returned home after a five-game road trip Monday night and they brought with them a whole new player. Luol Deng made his home debut for the Cavaliers at the Quicken Loans arena on Monday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Cavaliers traded for Deng from the Chicago Bulls back on Jan. 7 and Deng arrived the next day to go on the road with the team. The team went 3-2 on the west coast trip, beating the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets. The Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers dealt harsh blows in two tough losses.
Sitting at only 15 wins for the season, the team is looking to put the pieces in place to salvage their year before the trade deadline next month. Almost every marquee player seems to be at risk as the front office tries to make up for the poor draft and free agency picks which have left the team with very little to build on.
The trade was an effort to pull the team out of the depths of ill management that marked the early season and propel it into the growth needed to make success an option entering into the 2015 season.
Deng has already begun to find his place as a veteran on the young Cleveland roster. Deng’s role is to provide a second shooting outlet for the struggling yet promising Cavaliers team. Prior to the trade, the Cavaliers were 30th in the league in regards to the shooting percentage from the small forward position. Deng will hopefully provide some relief in this area.
So far he has provided perfectly, averaging just over 20 points a game with an added ten assists while the team was on the road. Deng played for Chicago for 10 seasons before being traded for Andrew Bynum and draft picks.
Bynum was a bust for the Cavaliers after being picked up in the offseason and was cut by the Bulls immediately. Deng played extremely well in the home opener and was welcomed with open arms by the home crowd. Deng had 20 points and three assists and added in the heartbreaking 102-97 loss to Dallas.
Deng’s biggest game as a Cavalier was Wednesday night’s game against the Bulls the first meeting between Deng and his old team.
The meeting was bittersweet as the Bulls handed the Cavaliers their second straight loss. The game was close until the end with big plays on both ends of the court. Shooting plagued the Cavaliers who were unable to capitalize on plenty of second chance opportunities. With the loss Cleveland falls to 15 and 27 and remains two games out of the final playoff spot.
The Cavaliers will continue their five-game homestand Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.