Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports is reporting that free agent small forward Luol Deng has agreed to terms on a two year, $20 million deal with the Miami Heat, joining Chris Bosh and fellow former Duke player Josh McRoberts.
So how do you replace LeBron James? The answer is that you cannot, but you must try the best you can. By signing Luol Deng, Pat Riley is demonstrating that he is doing the best he can. Deng brings defensive presence almost at the level of LeBron and perhaps begins to fill a little of the pit that was created in the Heat offense when the King returned to the Cuyahoga.
The Heat are now in nice position to bring back Dwyane Wade and are oddly in a very positive position within the Eastern Conference. The Heat are beautifully positioned to become the Bill Simmons-type “Nobody Believed in Us” team for the upcoming season. All year long the Heat had to listen to how they were no longer the Big 3, that the Heat had started to look like the 2010 Cleveland Cavs with LeBron and the disappointing supporting cast. Wade was physically done, they said. Bosh doesn’t know how to bang anymore, they said, all he does is shoots threes (and sometimes misses). It became all about LeBron doing everything to the point that when he said “Follow Me” in game 5 versus the Spurs, everyone watched LeBron to see how he would win it for them.
So now all that press gets to settle in. Can Bosh still war on the inside? We will find out, because McRoberts doesn’t really do that either. Can Dwyane Wade summon a Phoenix Suns training staff miracle and put one more great somewhat healthy season on the court? All these things are now on the table and there is no LeBron bailout. But with Deng, Miami does not have to go quietly in that good night.