LET DENG FINISH CONTRACT WITH ANOTHER TITLE RUN IN CHICAGO
It's easy to declare the Chicago Bulls as we know them over and done with, just prologue to whatever future awaits Derrick Rose when his surgically repaired knee is back to normal. The "Bench Mob" will likely be decimated this offseason, but that's to be expected. Backups should be rotated every couple of years.
But what about Luol Deng, the high-priced wingman with the balky wrist? Should he be rotated out of Chicago? Deng has been trade bait as long as he's been a Bull, a fact he has come to accept after years of peevishness.
First things first, I'm not sure which team is going to take him on and give the Bulls salary relief this offseason, especially with a wrist that may or may not need surgery this summer or the next. But let's suspend disbelief and say he's tradeable right now. Why wouldn't you pull the trigger for a younger, cheaper player?
I'm not ready to give up on Deng, the only Bull from the first winning team in the post-Jordan era. He's still young, and like a veteran should, is getting better with age. He has range, can still operate his mid-range game and is an elite wing defender.
In two seasons, when Rose is expected to be healthy, Deng will be in a contract year. You don't think he'll be motivated? There is a lingering belief that the current Bulls core has gone as far as it can, but that's not quite true.
If Rose doesn't go down in Game 1, who is to say they don't beat the Miami Heat and advance to the Finals? I'm not dwelling on that alternate future, but the present was taken away from this team with that injury.
Deng isn't just an important figure in Bulls history, he's still a very good NBA player, and I'd like to see him play out his contract and make another run for a ring in Chicago.
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.
TRADE HIM, BULLS DON'T DESERVE DENG
At this point it might be time to move on, move forward ... say goodbye to Luol Deng.
As important as Deng is and has been to the Bulls on and off the court, there are several reasons it may be in the best interests of both sides to trade the veteran forward.
For the Bulls:
• They are never going to get out of Luol what they are going to ask of him next season. Deng's great, but to have him hold down the team offensively, to be a No. 1 option, offensively during the regular season until Derrick Rose returns from ACL surgery is asking too much. He's not that guy, his game doesn't translate like that, he's not a volume scorer like that.
• Outside of Rose, Deng generates the most amount of interest, and the Bulls will get the greatest return for their investment in him.
• Cap space. Money. Flexibility to lure free agents.
• The possibility of getting another team's high pick and drafting another All-Star caliber player who gets them past Miami in the playoffs.
• There's no other player they could dangle at the Lakers to make them think about trading Pau Gasol. (Remember, Kobe has been wanting to play with Deng for a while now.)
• Lastly, this whole "Olympic thing" is never going to go away. Ever. If Deng plays in the Olympics, even if he doesn't miss any games during the NBA regular season, he's never going to be able to live it down. It will be his Scottie Pippen "1.8 seconds." The organization will never understand and hold it against him as long as he's here.
For Deng: • He'll never really be appreciated here. The team simply doesn't deserve him.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.