The most difficult part for Luol Deng of leaving the Chicago Bulls for the Cleveland Cavaliers was not packing his five bags in a scattered hurry, not saying goodbye to his teammates of nine years or even trying to quickly learn the Cavaliers' system so that he can start Friday in Utah.

The toughest part of it all was telling his mom.

"To me, that was one of the hardest things I had to do – explain to her that the organization I've been with nine years no longer wanted me there," Deng said Wednesday after practicing with Cleveland for the first time. "She couldn't understand why. She feels like I'm a nice guy, I get along with everybody. So I had to explain to her, and she was asking me, 'You're not playing well? What's going on?'"

He is a nice guy, and he actually is playing very well, averaging a career-high 19.0 points this season. But the small forward had difficulty reaching an agreement with the Bulls on a contract extension; he will be a free agent this summer.

The Cavaliers' risk in the trade is that Deng is a short-term solution to their long-standing small forward problem. But asked if he thought Cleveland might be a long-term destination, Deng was succinct: "I hope so," he said.

"It's something new for me and I'm really looking forward to the challenge," Deng said. "I want to work hard, I want to fit in as much as I can and I want to turn it around."

Deng said he is "open to" negotiating an extension with the Cavaliers this season, but he's certain to have numerous suitors when he is a free agent this summer.

In essence, the remainder of this season becomes an audition process for both sides. Does Deng provide the help the Cavaliers desperately need at small forward? Do the Cavaliers give Deng hope for victory, playing opportunity and a hefty contract?

"Any time anybody's a free agent, it's a two-way street," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "I don't think any of us are sitting here saying, 'He's ours forever.' It's got to be a good chemistry, a good feel on both sides for this to continue in a positive way.'