Every week, ESPNChicago.com Bulls writer Nick Friedell is joined by two other ESPN writers to weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Bulls followers.
1. Should the Bulls use the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer's contract this summer?
Nick Friedell: The answer to this question depends on the answers to two other questions. The first being do the Bulls think they can bring over Nikola Mirotic, and if so, how much will it cost them? The second being, do the Bulls believe they can land another difference-making free agent? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then the decision to amnesty the final year of Boozer's deal should be easy.
Doug Padilla: The Bulls have seemingly been on the amnesty route when it comes to Boozer, and trading Luol Deng to the Cavaliers doesn't seem to change that. If anything, trading Deng is a clear sign of the Bulls' intent to rebuild, and parting ways with Boozer seems to be the next major step. Mirotic is expected to be on his way from Real Madrid in Spain to assist Joakim Noah in the middle. And by shedding the $16.8 million owed to Boozer, the Bulls can gain more cap space.
Scoop Jackson: Why not? Losing Deng, to me, really broke up the nucleus of what Tom Thibodeau used to balance his offense. Yes, Derrick Rose not being there hurt, but Thibs found a system that allowed the Deng/Boozer bookends to work. It would be nice for Rose to have someone besides Noah he's relatively familiar playing with once Rose comes back, but at this point does that even matter?
2. Who got the better end of the deal in the Deng-Bynum trade?
Friedell: In the short term, the Cavs did. They get an All-Star forward in exchange for a few picks and a guy in Andrew Bynum who wasn't in their future. But in the long term, I think the Bulls got the better end of this deal. There's no guarantee Deng re-signs in Cleveland. And the Bulls save millions of dollars and get out of the luxury tax. I'm convinced Sacramento can't be so consistently terrible with a new ownership group that wants to make a splash, so the Bulls will end up with a first-round pick.
Padilla: If we're talking a simple basketball deal, then the Cavaliers just made themselves better without losing any current talent, which makes it an ideal move. In terms of a business deal, the Bulls scored big by getting out of the luxury tax and getting something for a player who wasn't likely to be re-signed anyway. But finding a true winner or loser in this deal won't come until down the road when we know what the Bulls end up doing with their financial savings and what kind of talent those draft picks yield.
Jackson: The Cavs. If there was a chance that Bynum was going to miraculously heal once he got here and the Bulls were going to keep him and get something out of him, then maybe my answer would shift. But what gives the Cavs the upper hand in this is not just what they got in Deng (an All-Star player who will stabilize their offense, anchor their defense and complement Kyrie Irving the way he complemented Rose, etc.), but what was lost in the player-coach relationship Deng had with Thibs. That's what is irreplaceable.
3. What's the next move the Bulls should make this season?
Friedell: Get whatever they can for Mike Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich. Both players are solid veterans who can help a contender. Dunleavy has even more value because he has an extra year on a cheap contract. If the Bulls can get another couple of assets for the pair they should do it.
Padilla: While it wouldn't be a shock to see Dunleavy moved next, somebody is going to have to pick up Deng's minutes. Tony Snell's playing time will increase, but there are backup minutes to be absorbed as well. If the Bulls are in cost-cutting mode, though, trading Dunleavy saves about $2 million through the rest of this season and another $3.3 million next season. It's not a gigantic sum, relatively speaking, but it's money saved nonetheless.
Jackson: Upgrade the training/medical staff. By now, it can no longer be happenstance or coincidence that Bulls players continue to get injured at this rate. Something is not right. Their next move needs to be a true investigation into why this has been going on so long and what they need to do to change it.