Carmelo Anthony still wants to be traded. The Bulls still seem like one of the three destinations in the mix, and one of two destination that we know he'd accept a trade to. Does the way Luol Deng has played this preseason change your views on whether the Bulls should trade him as well as another set of huge assets for Carmelo?
Let's say, for the sake of argument, the package is Deng + Gibson + Johnson + our 2010 1st round pick and the Charlotte pick for Melo. A month ago, this would have been the no brainer of no brainers. It would have looked like one of those 10 cents on the dollar type of trades. A lot has happened in preseason to possibly change our minds. In the midst of the off-season, discussing Luol Deng, I kept thinking "if only Deng had a three, he'd be the perfect fit at SF for this team".
Deng has a three now. Maybe he got lucky shooting 15/29, but I don't think so. He wasn't setting up for corner threes. The vast majority of his threes were the long threes from the wing rather than the short ones. He had no hesitation, his release looked smooth, and he didn't pass up the open three. He just kept shooting them. While he's not going to shoot over 50% from the three point line during the season, I have every confidence that he can accomplish my goal of shooting 3+ threes a game at 35% or greater efficiency marking him a legitimate threat on the three point line that needs to be accounted for or can punish you for not doing so.
What else does Luol do well? He's one of the better players in the league in contuinally putting pressure on a defense cutting off the ball and finding open spaces in a zone. He's the type of player that fits absolutely perfectly as a third option. Do I think he's better than Carmelo Anthony? No. No I do not. However, I'm not sure the Bulls need an extraordinarily high volume offensive player with a questionable attitude and about 5 million more per year in salary at the cost of every useful future asset we have on this team going forward, especially since the new CBA may eliminate the MLE.
In fact, perhaps the most compelling reason to make this trade now is how much worse Taj Gibson looks right now than he did last season. As much as Luol Deng has played up his value, Taj has played it down through a poor preseason. In the end you have to compare these two groups:
Rose, Boozer, Noah (as a core) which would you rather add:
Carmelo (high volume, decent efficiency, largely offensive only player, who doesn't shoot 3s to help space the floor, but can create his shot amongst the best in the NBA)
Deng (2 way player, doesn't need the ball, contribute in all facets of the game, looks to be a very efficient offensive player on medium volume, can't create his own shot)
Gibson (Scaring me right now with how much he's regressed and doesn't look healthy)
Johnson (doesn't really factor into the equation much one way or the other)
Charlotte 1st (has a 10% chance or so of being a top 5 pick in five years which could be everything or nothing)
Our 1st (likely relatively little value)
What you are left with in taking Carmelo is paying the man to create his own shot and give you volume scoring, and ultimately, neither piece seems to be the key thing the Bulls are missing. In fact, Deng's style fits are offense better as well, the number of shots we have available better, and the surrounding personnel better.
After all that, in the end, I'm going with Carmelo. Step 1 in the process in the NBA is to get the talent. Figure out the fit and the offense later, but get the talent. Carmelo is still the talent in this equation. You have to figure out how to make things work? Mix up the offense? That's okay, get Carmelo and figure the rest out later.
However, Luol, I love you for changing your game so much that I now have to stop and think about it. You've proven that you're not filler, fodder, or a contract that needs to be made up for. You're now the talent part of the trade. You're now the player we hoped you'd be when you signed your deal. The player most of us, including myself, doubted you'd ever become after not shooting the three for six seasons in the NBA. Keep it up, stay healthy, and keep serving up the crow to all of us, because crow has never tasted so good.