Make no mistake Chicago Bulls fans, the trade rumors involving Luol Deng are mostly about money. The Bulls are in flux after Derrick Rose's ACL injury, and Luol Deng's uncertain wrist issues don't help matters, but the harsher luxury tax set for 2013-14 is really driving the trade market heading into the 2012 NBA Draft. Mike Prada of SB Nation gives all the gory details of why players like Rudy Gay, Luol Deng and Pau Gasol are the subject of trade rumors, and his analysis of the Deng situation puts everything into the proper perspective.
With Deng slated to make roughly $27.5 million over the next two seasons and the Bulls committed to Deng, Rose, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah for $57.4 million in 2013-14, something has to give. As Prada explains, Deng could be traded if another team is willing to take on salary and provide Chicago with some salary cap relief:
Which trade partners make sense? The Bulls unsurprisingly rejected the Golden State Warriors' advances -- with $62 million committed this year and $55 million in 2013-14, theWarriors don't offer much payroll help for Chicago. That leaves several teams that think they are closer to contention than they realize as part of the proceedings. Squads like the Kings (picking No. 5, about $11.8 million in cap room this year before holds), Raptors (No. 8, $10.3 million), Hornets (No. 10, $20.3 million) and Suns (No. 13, $25.7 million) make more sense as trading partners for the Bulls, due to their combination of a lottery pick and cap space to absorb Deng's salary and provide the Bulls with instant savings.