Chicago Bulls: Andrew Bynum

Bulls play it smart in trading Luol Deng

January, 7, 2014
Jan 7
2:30
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls didn't want to move Luol Deng. They had to.

That's the initial reaction I had to news the Bulls were dealing Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

[+] EnlargeLuol Deng
AP Photo/Kamil KrzaczynskiThe Bulls just couldn't afford to let Luol Deng walk away at season's end and get nothing in return.
They couldn't run the risk of watching Deng leave in the offseason and get nothing in return. And now with Deng gone, the Bulls get themselves out of the luxury tax and save a lot of money in the short term once they waive Andrew Bynum -- a move that will be done by the 4 p.m. CT deadline on Tuesday, according to a league source.

What Deng's move does mean is that the Bulls as an organization have decided to go in a different direction.

They would have loved to keep Deng and see if this core could have one made another push together. But when the Bulls and Deng's representatives couldn't work out a contract extension last summer, the writing might have been on the wall. That became much clearer in recent days, when Deng turned down a three-year deal worth $30 million, according to Yahoo! Sports.

In the long term, the Deng deal changes the future for the Bulls. They acquired three more future draft picks in the trade with Cleveland.

As reported, a future first-round pick is Sacramento's, and it is top-10 protected for the next two years. There's a chance the pick could become a second-round pick in 2017, if the Kings continue to play their way into the lottery. But the Bulls are banking that with a new ownership group and a new arena in the works, the Kings will find themselves in the playoffs in the next few seasons ... and the Bulls will end up with another first-round pick.

The other layer of the deal is that the Bulls get two future second-round picks, and the ability to trade first-round spots with the Cavs in the 2015 draft as long as Cleveland's pick doesn't fall in the lottery. Bulls GM Gar Forman is fond of using the term "assets" to describe the draft choices he has piled up in the past; that's exactly what he loaded up on in this trade. All these picks the Bulls are hoarding may never see the floor in Chicago, but they could be used in future deals down the line.

Aside from the money aspect of this deal, the question now becomes how much will this change the Bulls' core moving forward?

Derrick Rose isn't going anywhere. He still has three years remaining on his max deal after this one. Joakim Noah still has two years left on a team-friendly contract. Taj Gibson still has three years left on his deal. And Jimmy Butler is still in his rookie deal.

Rookie Tony Snell figures to be the biggest beneficiary of Deng's departure in the short term. With Deng out of the fold, Snell should get a lot more minutes to show what he can do. The Bulls' front office has been high on Snell since drafting him last summer and believes he can turn into a valuable player down the line. Veteran Mike Dunleavy also may be dealt down the line, given his relatively cheap contract and the fact he is signed for another season after this one. But for now, he and Snell will get the bulk of Deng's minutes.

The key for the Bulls is deciding what they want to do with the final year of Carlos Boozer's contract. All along, signs have pointed to the Bulls exercising their amnesty clause on the final year of his deal, which is worth almost $17 million. With Deng now out of the fold, will the Bulls decide to pay Boozer to leave?

In doing so, it would free up even more money for the Bulls to go after their big target this summer: former first-round pick Nikola Mirotic. The Bulls were always hoping to sign Mirotic for the mid-level exception, but he could decide to ask for more money now that he is no longer bound to the rookie-scale contract. If he does, the Bulls are even more likely to amnesty Boozer, given that it would free up even more cap space to sign Mirotic.

No matter what decision the Bulls make down the line, their biggest one was made early Tuesday. Trading Deng is a sign that the Bulls are looking toward the future and not caught up in trying to recreate the past with a core that saw its window for a championship close when Rose went down for the season Nov. 22 in Portland with a torn medial meniscus in his right knee.

Deng was a great player for the Bulls, but he was not the second offensive option on a championship-caliber team. The Bulls decided they couldn't wait for Deng's price to fall back into their range and ultimately made a move they had to make.

Opening Tip: Bynum to the Bulls?

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
9:00
AM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
BynumKent Smith/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Cavaliers have suspended Andrew Bynum and are looking to trade him.
CHICAGO -- Out of all the possibilities that have been thrown out in regard to what Gar Forman could get in return for Luol Deng, few expected Andrew Bynum's name to pop up in a potential deal. That changed Saturday when ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reported that Bynum had been suspended by the Cleveland Cavaliers for conduct detrimental to the team and was on the trading block. As an example, Windhorst noted that the Bulls could be a destination for the oft-injured center given the way the numbers line up. Allow him to explain:

"As an example of how Bynum could be used in a deal, the Chicago Bulls are currently about $7.5 million over the luxury-tax line. They could trade free agent-to-be Luol Deng for Bynum and immediately waive him, which would save about $8 million off the cap and get the Bulls out of the tax. Such a trade would save the Bulls almost $20 million in salary and tax payments. Sources said the Bulls remain determined to hang on to Deng and hope to re-sign him even though the Cavs are interested. This is just how a trade for Bynum might work and what the motivations would be."

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The ball remains in Forman's court. The Cavs could sell Forman on the fact that Deng may leave anyway at the end of the year and they could clear out space now and save the organization millions in another lost year without Derrick Rose. All along, the Bulls have wanted to acquire assets in the form of cheap contracts or draft picks. They didn't want to take back more money, but Bynum's uniquely structured contract allows them to look at things differently. Would they do the deal if a first-round pick was included and/or if Dion Waiters was included? Would the Cavs even want to include either of those pieces to try and move out Bynum quicker and bring Deng in for the stretch run?

This is where things remain complicated for Forman. If he really does want to re-sign Deng in the offseason, the idea of trading him now is a moot point. Deng and his representatives have shown no indication of offering a hometown discount, and the Bulls have shown no indication of paying him what he wants. The idea that Deng would take less money to come back to the Bulls after they dealt him is laughable.

Clearly, there are deals out there for Forman to consider. But the question he must ponder most of all isn't whether the Bulls should deal Deng now, it's how confident he is that Deng can play at the same level for the next few years and how convinced he is that the two-time All-Star will re-sign for closer to the range the Bulls are hoping for. The answers to those questions will determine what happens to Deng's future in Chicago. But the idea of being able to jump out of the luxury tax and save a boatload of money in the short-term has to be very appealing for a team that watched its championship aspirations die for the season the night Rose went down.

Bulls learning from injury-plagued past? Deng remains questionable for Monday night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies although he admitted Saturday that his troubled Achilles was feeling better. The veteran forward says he believes the organization has taken a smarter approach to injuries this season.

"I think we learned from the past," he said. "I think the players, too. We talk to each other. In the past I would have been out there playing and then missing another month or so and I really don't want to do that. The other thing is I don't want to keep coming in and out. I think that's the last thing we need. We're trying to get going. We won two in a row. Guys are playing well, we're getting guys back, and I don't want to come in and then out again. But definitely I think we're being smarter this year."

The last word: Deng, before Saturday's blowout loss to the Dallas Mavericks, on if better days were ahead for the Bulls:

"I really believe that. I really think so. I think we had just unbelievable injuries and guys have been in and out. And I think the addition of D.J. Augustin really helps us. Kirk [Hinrich] sits out and you get D.J. in, the flow of the game just keeps going. I'm really excited and I think we're better than what our record says. But at the end of the day you are what your record is. But I'm really looking forward to everybody being at full strength and see how good we can be."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
21.6 3.4 1.5 40.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.5
AssistsD. Rose 5.0
StealsJ. Butler 1.5
BlocksP. Gasol 2.0