1:30pm: The move is official, the Heat announced (on Twitter).
1:03pm: Deng has apparently changed course, as agent Herb Rudoy tells TNT’s David Aldridge that he’s opting in, not out (Twitter link).
11:08am: The Heat expect Luol Deng to turn down his player option worth nearly $10.152MM and hit free agency, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The deadline for him to do so is today. Stein also hints that the Heat also expect Dwyane Wade to turn down his player option worth $16.125MM, as Wade has hinted he’ll do. Goran Dragic, who already turned down his $7.5MM player option, is “basically a lock” to stay with the Heat, Stein writes, but the same isn’t true of either Deng or Wade.
Heat president Pat Riley made it clear last week that he wants Deng back, even in the wake of Miami’s choice of fellow small forward Justise Winslow with the No. 10 pick. Deng, 30, expressed his love for the Heat organization back in April, citing its medical staff. Still, that was before Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that Wade is open to leaving the Heat, throwing Miami’s offseason plans a curveball.
People around the league this spring expressed doubt to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders that Deng could find a salary better than what his option would give him for this coming season. Still, the Interperformances client will probably be able to find a deal that would lock in a greater total of money, albeit over a longer period of time, though that’s just my speculation.
Miami only has about $43MM in guaranteed salaries for next season, but new deals for Dragic, Wade and Deng threaten to push the team beyond the projected $81.6MM tax line. The Heat would pay repeat-offender tax penalties if they’re above the tax line at the end of the 2015/16 regular season.