Chicago Bulls Rumors: 5 Teams Luol Deng Might Be Traded To
Will Luol Deng Be Traded and Why?
The Chicago Bulls have been pretty dreadful so far this season. They sit at 9-15, ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, and have dropped 12 of their last 15 games. If things get any worse, and they're likely to at this rate, changes are going to come as the front office will surely recognize at some point that this team is going nowhere as currently constructed -- and, of course, without Derrick Rose healthy.
See, the Bulls aren't as bad as they've been playing. They've had key pieces not named Rose in and out of the lineup all season, and at a time when they need all hands on deck in order to win games with any regularity, they've had injuries left and right. It's clear that luck is not on their side this season, and that's why the worst stretch of basketball in Tom Thibodeau's head coaching career is taking place.
This has all led to speculation that Luol Deng is going to be traded. He's on the last year of his contract and both sides are at a supposed disagreement on contract extensions by about $5-6 million. This may be becoming such a possibility that Deng even spoke about it after their loss to the Toronto Raptors last night.
“I know that I want to be here, I’ve always wanted to be here," Deng said to the Chicago Sun-Times. "But at the end of the day I’m mature enough to understand that I can’t worry about things I can’t control. If I wake up tomorrow, they call me and they tell me otherwise, then that’s what it is. I can’t control that. That’s their job and they’ve got to do their job. That’s a decision they have to make on what they feel is best for the team.’’
Now, if the Bulls are smart with this potential deal, they could set themselves up nicely heading into the offseason. Of course, they could also just completely decide that this team's time together is up and officially call it quits this year, dismantle the team and just rebuild entirely through the 2014 NBA Draft and free agency with the exception of some key, locked-up pieces like Rose, Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler.
Both of those routes will be explored on the following slides. But it was tough finding potential landing spots for Deng considering how big his salary is. The Bulls will not want to take on big contracts that have multiple years, and teams aren't going to trade any young superstars for Deng either. So, in order to find teams, I had to look for a) franchises with plenty of cap space (which there aren't many) or b) teams that have one-year contracts that are worth enough money to do a swap and maybe throw in a couple of smaller pieces or draft picks to the Bulls to even out the worth between the two players.
As you can see, it was kind of complicated. However, the research is done, and if a deal is to be made where the Bulls trade away Deng, the following five teams are pretty good guesses on where he might land -- and who the Bulls might get in return.
5. Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers have been looking to trade Pau Gasol for years, and if the Bulls decide they want to really break up the team and just try to rebuild this offseason, then L.A. may have finally found a buyer. The Bulls could trade Deng and Taj Gibson (who makes about $8 million a year for the next few seasons) for Gasol and a couple of smaller one-year deals on the Lakers, who have quite a few. Chicago might be able to acquire a guy like Nick Young, who then could play two-guard for the Bulls while Butler moves to the three, and then the rotation of big men would just be Carlos Boozer, Noah and Gasol, with Boozer and Gasol being gone after this season.
It's not an ideal move for the Bulls moving forward, but it does clear cap space and set up some opportunities in free agency next July.
4. Charlotte Bobcats
This is another move where the Bulls trade for another player with a large salary and maybe a couple of positive pieces for the future. For a deal with the Charlotte Bobcats to go down, the Bulls would likely have to take Ben Gordon and his one-year, $13 million contract. However, they may also be able to get another first-rounder out this deal, and maybe a couple of young prospects to see if they fit in with the team and Thibs' system.
The reason the Bobcats might be interested in Deng is because they're finally in playoff contention. Granted, it's because the East is awful, but nevertheless, maybe Michael Jordan wants to try and make his team a little more competitive. Adding Deng would help.
3. Utah Jazz
The main reason the Utah Jazz are here is because of the contracts and young pieces they have on their team. The Jazz don't really have any proven players, so perhaps adding Deng for a year would provide a bit of experience and help them be a little more competitive. The Bulls would have to take on Richard Jefferson's one-year, $11 million contract, but might be able to add a guy like Gordon Hayward and a draft pick.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
This deal has been talked about a little bit already, but if you haven't heard, the Cleveland Cavaliers might be looking to unload Dion Waiters if it brings them a good wing player. Only problem is, Waiters only makes a few million dollars a year and Deng is worth $14M. The Bulls would have to take on Anderson Varejao's two-year contract. He's due $9M this year and $9.7M next season, but he could also be cut and only owed $4M. Strange way to work out a deal that you don't see a lot, but it may be an option for the Bulls if they're interested in adding Waiters.
But it's definitely something worth exploring. Having a backcourt of Rose and Waiters for the next few seasons at least could become something special.
1. Philadelphia 76ers
And here lies the best-case scenario for the Bulls. The Philadelphia 76ers have not kept it a secret that they would be willing to move Evan Turner, who has proven to be a pretty solid point-forward with the Sixers. Also, Philly has quite a bit of cap space with their young team, so they could essentially trade Turner for Deng straight up. Of course, the Bulls could also take advantage of the opportunity since Deng's value is a bit more than Turner's and add a couple of pieces such as rookie point guard Tony Wroten Jr. or second-year big man Arnett Moultrie (even if he is out with an ankle injury until January).
A deal with the Sixers could set the Bulls up well for the future, especially considering Turner's contract is set to end after this season and he'll become a restricted free agent. The Bulls can then decide if he's worth bringing back for another year, or save the money and go in another direction.
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