Would the Chicago Bulls really consider trading do-it-all small forward Luol Deng? That's been the hot rumor as of late. The Bulls want to find a way to stay under the luxury tax while adding younger, more cost-efficient talent and retaining several key bench members about to enter free agency, a list headlined by 26-year old center Omer Asik.
The Contra Costa Times has an interesting item today about a potential match between the Bulls and Golden State Warriors. The Warriors need a small forward, and own a decently high lottery pick (No. 7 overall) which the Bulls are said to covet.
Here's the Deng-focused bit from the CCT:
Per the NBA rumor mill, the Chicago Bulls are entertaining giving up Luol Deng to get into the NBA draft lottery. According to sources, Golden State hasn’t talked with Chicago about Deng yet. But Deng is on the Warriors’ short list of veteran small forwards they’d be interested in.
Chicago would have to take some of the Warriors’ baggage in return, such as Richard Jefferson or Andris Biedrins, along with the No. 7 pick. The Bulls may get better offers. Trade talks, from the Warriors end, have been fairly slow. But things won’t pick up in earnest anyway until next week, as the June 28 draft nears.'ve covered this extensively
I've already spilled a healthy amount of Internet ink on this subject, but from here, it seems as if there's two ways to take the circulating Deng rumors.
1. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf is just trying to duck the luxury tax again, despite, you know, two decades worth of sellouts and unapproachable merchandise sales. Deng wouldn't be a casualty if the owner would just buck up and go into the tax to retain Asik, C.J. Watson, et. al.
2. The Bulls are aware of how team-friendly the rookie scale is and realize they need another scorer with superstar Derrick Rose fighting to return from a torn ACL. Rose was expected to shoulder a significant percentage of the team's offense before, and now it might be unreasonable. Chicago has four very highly paid players with long-term contracts. They want flexibility. The Bulls would rather deal Deng than Joakim Noah, their center and interior defensive lynchpin.
While it's hard to argue Reinsdorf has earned the benefit of the doubt, I'm still naive enough to believe Chicago would look to replace Deng's big salary with another $10 million+ player in the next year or so. Probably not James Harden, but hey: he didn't do himself any favors in the 2012 NBA Finals.
If No. 2 is really what the Bulls are thinking, it would seem to make more sense to trade Deng next season. He's playing in the Olympics this summer and then having wrist surgery, meaning he could be out until January. The only way this changes is if there's a prospect Chicago really likes, such as Harrison Barnes, the North Carolina small forward who the team has already met with. Barnes is unlikely to be available at No. 7, though.
My guess is Deng sticks around, but this certainly won't be the last rumor you hear with 2012 NBA Draft coming on Thursday.