- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- The irony of Thursday's NBA draft, as far as the Chicago Bulls are concerned, is that the organization's fans care much more about whether or not their team is going to make a deal involving one of its current stars than finding a future one. The big question fans have bounced around over the past few weeks is: Will the Bulls make a major move on draft night?
The answer, right now, appears to be no.
There has been plenty of speculation recently surrounding Luol Deng and whether or not the Bulls would deal him for a draft pick and other considerations. Deng likely will have to have surgery after the Olympics to fix a torn ligament in his wrist and would miss 3-4 months if that happened. But why would the Bulls deal him unless it was a strictly financial move? Why would a team deal for Deng if he is going to be out 8-12 weeks? Unless the Bulls have fallen in love with a high-level prospect, and there's been no indication that they have, why would they move their All-Star forward for an unproven commodity?
The other name that has been popular in trade speculation, at least amongst fans, is Joakim Noah. The Florida product signed a $60-million dollar extension that kicked in last season. He is one of the better defensive centers in the league and a man whom Tom Thibodeau trusts to be an anchor in his system, on both sides of the floor. Noah has spent a portion of his summer in Califiornia working with personal trainer Alex Perris, as he prepares to play in the Olympics for Team France. He is still trying to get over a painful ankle injury he suffered in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, admitting after his exit meeting with Bulls' personnel that he wanted to strengthen his ankles this summer.
At 27, Noah has trade value and has gained a reputation in the league as being a solid defender. But for any fan wondering if the Bulls will move him in a potential deal, consider that the organization still isn't sure whether it will be able to retain Omer Asik. A restricted free agent this summer, Asik is expected to get a big offer.
General manager Gar Forman has gone out of his way to talk about how much he wants to keep Asik -- the most he can be offered in year one of a new deal is $5 million -- but a team that badly wants Asik could make the contract painful for the Bulls to match if they offer him big money in years three and four. With that type of uncertainty, dealing Noah would seem to leave a massive void in the middle.
Roy to the Bulls?: ESPN.com's Ric Bucher reported Wednesday night that the Bulls are one of many teams interested in Brandon Roy. Here's the problem for the Bulls as it pertains Roy, and pretty much every other player they talk to this summer, the Bulls do not want to go into the luxury tax. They do not want to dump extra money into a roster that no matter how hard it plays, probably won't win a title this year. If the Bulls match any potential offer for Asik, they will likely be right up against the luxury tax threshold. If the team doesn't bring back Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson, they could create enough space to offer Roy close to $5 million, but then the likelihood of keeping Asik goes way down. Not to mention if the Bulls don't bring back Korver, Brewer and/or Watson they will need to fill the rest of their roster with cheap contracts.
Another effect of Derrick Rose's knee injury, and something to consider regarding Roy or any other free agent the Bulls speak with in the next few weeks, surrounds their pitch. Unlike the past two seasons, it will be hard for the Bulls to sell a free agent on the fact that they can contend for a title this year. Their depth will be depleted and their two best players figure to miss big chunks of the year. Sure, Forman and company could sell a player on playing in Chicago and getting major time while Rose (and likely) Deng recover. But if a free agent only wants a one-year deal and the decision comes down to the Bulls or another team looking for a title, the Bulls no longer have the advantage of throwing out the possibility of a ring in the recruiting pitch.
There are too many reasons for the Bulls to hang on to Noah and Deng.