Discussion

It's a run on combo forwards

Miami signs Luol Deng, Wiz ink Paul Pierce in wake of LeBron James' move

Updated: July 14, 2014, 11:11 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | ESPN Insider

With apologies to Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls, the 48 hours of free agency since LeBron James changed the landscape of the league have been dominated by combo forwards -- some coming, some going, one staying and one looming over every decision that teams make this summer.

Let's take a look at what these moves mean.

Luol Deng | Miami Heat | $20 million over two years


Deng

On Sunday morning, the Miami Heat moved on from James, replacing him with the player James will replace in Cleveland.

Pat Riley's options were limited and dependent on whether Dwyane Wade still plans to take a pay cut. This late in the process, making a bid on a restricted free agent (Eric Bledsoe or Greg Monroe) ran the risk of leaving Miami shut out of the marquee free agents, so opting for a sure thing was reasonable.

The Heat held the line on Deng's salary, getting him at a reasonable price and a contract length that protects them from much downside risk. As a result, Wade might not have to take noticeably less money than he was scheduled to make, though any pay cut -- by choice or lack of leverage -- would give Miami the opportunity to add more talent.

James taking a two-year contract prevented the Cavaliers and Heat from working a double sign-and-trade that might have been mutually beneficial, allowing both teams to stay over the cap and retain their full midlevel exceptions. Instead, Miami will have to go under the cap to sign Deng and Josh McRoberts, then figure out how to take care of Danny Granger, Udonis Haslem and anyone else making more than the minimum salary between space from a Wade pay cut and the $2.65 million room midlevel exception.


Carmelo Anthony | New York Knicks | $122 million over five years


Anthony
Insider's Bradford Doolittle has already looked at what Anthony's return means for the Knicks over the long term, as they search for a second star to help support him.

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