In addition to peddling Kirk Hinrich, sources say the Bulls also are
exploring interest in Luol Deng, who has four years and $51 million
left after this season. Trading both of them - or packaging one of them
with Thomas - would provide Chicago with enough cap space to score two
max free agents this coming summer, effectively placing them on equal
footing with the Heat in the 2010 chase.
It's hard to say what the Bulls should do with Deng. I don't particularly think he's worth his cap hit. His deferred payments make the contract more mild than it looks, but that doesn't help the Bulls build a better team.
He's a solid player on both ends of the court, and they're not going to just find another guy to replace his production easily either. His three point shot seems like it's slowly coming around as his accuracy is much improved as are his number of attempts this season though he's still pretty far away from being a three point threat.
If Deng could become that three point shooting SF then he'd be an awfully good fit next to Derrick Rose, but even then, the final years of his contract are really cap killers.
Also, trading him for crap basically is likely to tank the team the rest of this season, again, making it much harder to lure FAs in the summer. If the bulls did trade everyone for expirings and went into the summer with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and enough room to sign two max FAs I wonder what would happen.
Maybe you get Wade and Bosh or LeBron and anyone, but if not, you're left with a ton of money to spend on guys who will end up even more overpaid than the ones you just shipped off.
It's a dangerous game, if you go that route and win, you're looking a a team that could win multiple championships. If you go that route and don't sign anyone then you're looking to rebuild around cap space and have to be awfully careful not to make mistakes on the second tier guys lest you lock yourself into a crappy future.
The upside is a team that probably wins multiple titles. The downside is the odds of signing even one max FA could lower considerably. How risky will the bulls play this thing?