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updated: 2/7/2014 8:06 PM

Deng's Cleveland countdown clock is ticking

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  • Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anthony Bennett (15) has the ball slapped away on a dunk attempt by Dallas Mavericks' Vince Carter (25) as Devin Harris (20), Tristan Thompson (13), Jae Crowder, center rear, Samuel Dalembert (1) of Haiti and Luol Deng (9) of Sudan watch in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in Dallas.

      Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anthony Bennett (15) has the ball slapped away on a dunk attempt by Dallas Mavericks' Vince Carter (25) as Devin Harris (20), Tristan Thompson (13), Jae Crowder, center rear, Samuel Dalembert (1) of Haiti and Luol Deng (9) of Sudan watch in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, in Dallas.
    Associated Press

 
 

Center Andrew Bynum was officially introduced in Indiana on Friday, making his first public comments since being traded away from Cleveland on Jan. 6.

He was asked about the six or so hours he spent as a member of the Bulls, but his answer was equally brief.

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"I never even went (to Chicago), dude," Bynum said.

Bynum was also asked about his departure from Cleveland, where there were suggestions he forced the Cavaliers' hand by acting out in practice.

"It wasn't that it didn't work (in Cleveland)," Bynum said, according to the Indianapolis Star News. "It's just the atmosphere over there wasn't one that kind of promoted positive energy in wanting to come in and really ... it was just tough at the end of the day.

"There's really nothing more to be said about it. They did everything they could for me and I went there and worked hard, got myself into shape and that was the goal."

This comment does help answer one question: When will Luol Deng send thank you cards to John Paxson and Gar Forman for trading him to Cleveland? Answer: Never.

Earlier this week, Deng blasted a report by the New York Daily News, which claimed Deng told a friend the Cavaliers are a "mess," with stuff going on in practice that would have never been tolerated in Chicago.

"I'm really disappointed and it hurt me a little bit because I do care about the guys in the locker room and I've never in my career had something like that written about me," Deng told the Akron Beacon-Journal.

Whether Deng actually said those things is irrelevant. Most NBA fans don't need confirmation the Cavaliers are a mess. Just recap the season.

There were rumors of a contentious team meeting and dislike between young guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. Bynum saw an opportunity to get out when his hefty contract was about to become fully guaranteed and took advantage. The Cavs executed the rare midseason firing of a general manager, Chris Grant, on Thursday, a day after losing at home to a Lakers team that finished the game with four eligible players.

The best evidence is the NBA standings. After a slight bump with the addition of Deng, Cleveland (16-33) had lost eight of nine games heading into Friday's date in Washington.

Where did Grant go so wrong? Well, obviously it started with not producing a championship-caliber team to support the best player of this generation, LeBron James. Grant replaced Danny Ferry as GM about a month before James' decision to go to Miami.

The Cavs did well at first with the rebuild, snagging Irving, an all-star starter, and power forward Tristan Thompson, who's been decent, in 2011. The next two drafts brought surprise picks that haven't panned out, Waiters and Anthony Bennett, one of the least productive No. 1 overall picks ever. Veteran additions like Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark haven't helped much, either.

Then there's that curious Cleveland culture people keep mentioning. There was talk about how the Cavs never said no to James, in fear that he'd leave. Now, Bynum is claiming the Cavs do nothing to promote positive energy.

Signing Bynum would pay off if Cleveland could keep Deng long-term. The only way that's likely to happen, though, is if Deng buddies up with fellow Duke product Irving, then team management agrees to clean house build around those two.

Deng's not stupid, obviously. His chance to escape is this summer and he'll have options. As it stands, there's a better chance he ends up with Dallas, Phoenix, Washington or the Lakers than stays in Cleveland.

• Follow Mike's Bulls reports on Twitter @McGrawDHBulls.

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