2016 NBA free agency: Where will Luol Deng sign?

Would Luol Deng gamble on the up and coming Timberwolves? (Getty Images)
Would Luol Deng gamble on the up and coming Timberwolves? (Getty Images)

It’s hard to predict much about the Heat’s free agency endeavor considering no one knows what Kevin Durant will do and they have complicated situations trying to retain Hassan Whiteside and Dwyane Wade.

Luol Deng looks like he might be more of a contingency than a priority in Miami’s plan, despite him saying his preference is to return and Pat Riley calling him “one of our core people.” If that doesn’t work out, here are the top four destinations for Deng:

1. Los Angeles Clippers
This might be the last shot for L.A. to make a run with this group, and it has a perfect opening for Deng with Jeff Green hitting free agency. Despite a big injury to Blake Griffin, the Clippers were the No. 4 seed in the East last year. Picking up Deng would give them a starting five of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Deng, Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. This is probably his best shot at vying for a title next year.

2. Atlanta Hawks
How crazy would it be for Deng to end up in Atlanta after everything that happened back in 2014? The Hawks are under new management now, though, and Deng has to be enticed by their style of offense. He would be an upgrade over Kent Bazemore, a free agent this summer, and already has a strong relationship with former teammate Kyle Korver.

3. Boston Celtics
There’s a lot here for Deng to like, depending on how Boston’s free agency and draft plans go. The Celtics appear to be on the verge of making a big leap after finishing tied for third in the Eastern Conference last year.

4. Minnesota Timberwolves
This is the most intriguing option, giving Deng the chance to reunite with Tom Thibodeau yet challenging him with the possibility that this team might be a year away. The Timberwolves were 29-53, 12 games out of the playoffs, but figure to get instantly better defensively with Thibodeau in charge and the expectation that Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns will keep progressing. Minnesota could push for a playoff spot with a lineup of Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, Wiggins, Deng and Towns.

[Does Luol Deng want to play on a discount? Do the Heat want him back]

[VIDEO: Dwyane Wade’s killer crossover finishes No. 2 on NBA top-10 list]

[The latest on the Miami Heat’s chances at landing Kevin Durant]

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