CHICAGO -- Luol Deng continues to be the focal point of pre-draft speculation for the Chicago Bulls. ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported Monday that the Bulls were exploring a deal that would send the two-time All-Star to the Washington Wizards in exchange for the third pick in Thursday night's draft and Emeka Okafor's expiring deal that he would have to opt into. Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday that, according to sources, the Bulls have already started discussions regarding an extension for Deng.
Deng's agent, Herb Rudoy, said in a phone conversation on Tuesday afternoon that no discussions for an extension were taking place.
"We've had zero discussions about an extension (for Deng)," Rudoy said. "Zero."
Deng enters into the final year of his deal this season and is scheduled to make over $14 million. With Deng coming off the books next summer and the Bulls likely amnestying the final year of Carlos Boozer's contract, the Bulls figure to have around $20 million to spend on free agents next summer.
The issue for the organization is that if Deng won't take much of a pay cut, they may be better served to deal him this summer rather than watch him walk away for nothing next year. What complicates everything for the Bulls is that Deng has thrived under Tom Thibodeau's coaching style and is a defensive stalwart in the coach's system. But if he wants to re-sign for the same amount of money, or close to it, and the Bulls still want to bring over former first round pick Nikola Mirotic from Europe, most of their available cap space would be gone.