With the season not really going according to plan and on the ropes, the Chicago Bulls pulled a magic trick and made a major move early this morning. News broke that the Bulls traded nine-year veteran and two time All-Star Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum and draft picks. So, the questions people are asking, why did the Bulls do this deal and where are they going from here?
The Bulls really did not want to get rid of Deng, who was such a valuable asset on and off the court, especially for a player like Bynum, who was waived hours later, but this was a very smart move. The Bulls did this for cap space, for the long-term future, and because they are focusing on the next couple of drafts and next season. Waiving Bynum and getting rid of Deng will save the team more than $20 million and they will be more prepared to go after major free agents like a Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James.
Furthermore, on top of the money being saved, the Bulls got a future first round pick from the Cavs via the Sacramento Kings. They also get second round picks in 2015 and 2016 from the Cavs via the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Bulls have tried to keep Deng and insisted all season that he was part of the future. They were adamant on re-signing him in the offseason, but when reports came out that he rejected an extension last week of $30 million for three years, the writing was on the wall. Many fans and around the league felt that Deng would have left in free agency. The Bulls had to make this move to get something for Deng instead of letting him walk for nothing.
In the end, the Bulls will really miss Deng and what he brought to them. He was a leader, a guy that brought it every night, and coach Tom Thibodeau‘s ultimate weapon. This trade will hurt the Bulls short-term, but the future is just getting started.