The Luol Deng situation isn't so straight forward

The Luol Deng situation isn't so straight forward

The rumors around Luol Deng will continue to swirl until the trade deadline. One report says the Bulls aren't shopping, and that both he and the Bulls want to extend their contract into the future. The next has his name floating in trade rumors. It's really pretty simple.

Teams like Luol Deng, but not for a year

Aggrey Sam noted this in his most recent article.

No, certainly not by law enforcement and not even so much on the NBA’s trade market, as many teams are hesitant to take him on as a half-season rental, especially if the Bulls’ price is a productive young player and a first-round draft pick, as people in the know around the league continue to say. But more significantly, Deng’s prospective suitors are more eager about his impending unrestricted free agency, when they could have a chance to woo him away from the only franchise the two-time All-Star has ever played for in his professional career, signing him free and clear.

Many of the interested teams have cap room next year and little interest in giving up an asset to get him when they can bid next summer without losing anything. The teams that don't have cap room aren't necessarily excited on giving up a bunch of assets for Deng only to then have to pay him an unknown amount of money next season.

Maybe you like Luol Deng enough to pay him 12 million a year, but do you like him enough to give up a first rounder, a decent player, and then maybe have to go 14 million a year if the bidding gets crazy?

The Bulls want something good for Luol

At the same time, the Bulls also want something good for Luol Deng. They have two firsts (assuming Charlotte stays on track) and Mirotic on the docket next summer. That's an influx of three rookies already. They likely aren't anxious to bring in a fourth.

A mid round first might allow them to trade out to next year and maintain a large stable of future assets to grease trade wheels or improve the team. It may also allow them to trade up in this draft to get a player [though clearly not to the star area of the draft], but it's probably not that useful as an asset to add wins next season.

In the end, a mid round first is highly, highly unlikely to ever become as talented as Deng, and almost certainly not in year one. The Bulls may be looking to win now, and the value received for Deng likely won't be as high on the court as Deng. The value of getting a better draft pick might, but that can also be dicey.

Of course, that assumes the Bulls keep Deng which is certainly not a given.

The chance of keeping Deng is small but has some upside

If the Bulls get back a healthy Rose, bring in Mirotic, Snell develops, and they get some productivity out of their 2 firsts then they likely view themselves as a deep, contending team again.

It's probably a long shot that they can afford to keep Deng and make all this happen, especially hoping for Rose to come back healthy. That said, this long shot might be better than the other long shots facing the Bulls.

Bulls management had better know what their number is for Deng and take an honest look at free agency to see if they think he'll fit it. Josh Smith proves that it only takes one idiotic team to make the bidding go haywire, and there's a lot of teams with money to burn for a free agent class that likely won't be exciting if LeBron and Melo stick.

Even if they move, there's a lot of teams left with money to burn after the few guys better than Deng are gone.

Chicago's not in great position to win a title. However, they're miles away from Knicks/Nets screwed.

While I personally would look to move Deng, tank, and build for the future, it's not hard to make the case for attempting to keep Deng and roll with what they have + Mirotic and 2 picks [or possibly a quality player that can be obtained for 2 picks and Boozer's expiring deal].

The real difference to me is that moving Deng might increase your odds of landing a star in the draft from 5 to 20%, but that's still a low chance and if the Bulls don't land a star in the draft, they won't be stronger for having moved Deng.

Tough situation for management

I noted it a long time ago, Luol Deng presents a tough choice for management. He's likely going to cost more than he's worth on the court, but while you also won't be able to get the same value in trade.

The Bulls are stuck blowing up the salary or losing talent on the team. I'd take the risk in letting Deng walk myself, but I won't sit here and pretend that it's definitely the best choice. If the draft doesn't pan out for Chicago after moving Deng, then their odds of winning a title will go down considerably after moving him.

Management likely wants to keep Deng on the right deal, and I'm good with that. However, they really need to decide if they an afford to keep him on the wrong deal, because that's far more likely. In the end since this year is dead anyway, there are a few possible outcomes:

1: The Bulls trade Deng, get some value back and possibly improve their draft position. They likely get an 8th man type plus the possibility of drafting higher with their own pick giving them a 300% greater shot at the star portion of the lottery but still only 20%ish odds overall.

If they fail to get the star in the draft, they will have worsened the team talent wise, but improved it financially and flexibility wise by adding in another young desirable rookie deal and subtracting a long term large conract.

2: The Bulls keep Luol Deng and resign him at a good price. Unless the Bulls hit the 20%ish chance and get a star in the draft, the Bulls likely have the most on court talent this way. However, they'll be very limited financially and may have to make hard choices with guys like Butler/Gibson in the near future.

They'll likely replace Boozer with Mirotic which may or may not be a plus, and the team may or may not have a real shot at winning a title next year depending mostly on whether Rose can play like a star and whether the other new additions (2 1sts and Mirotic) do relative to the subtractions (likely Boozer and Hinrich).

3: The Bulls keep Deng and resign him at a terrible price. The situation isn't that different from #2 except that now the Bulls will need to commit to paying repeater tax and likely have to get rid of other players. Their window is smaller, and if it doesn't work then escaping and starting over will be much tougher.

4: The Bulls keep Deng but are outbid in free agency by someone else. This is the worst case scenario. The only upside is a bit of extra financial flexibility, but it comes without gaining the assets a trade would bring in and the talent loss of moving him at the deadline as well as not giving the Bulls a better shot at a star in the draft.

In short, when you look at these scenarios, as a fan you can live with #1, #2, and probably #3. #4 would really eat away at you, and I don't think the Bulls are willing to live with #3. #2 seems like a pipe dream given the free agent market which is why I view #1 as the best path forward.

Hopefully they come to terms with that and move Deng or I'm simply incorrect about their willingness to spend.

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  • Deng doesn't have much left in his tank, and his body is breaking down too. Millions for that?

  • like the ben gordon contract situation, the Bulls will keep Deng for a "playoff run" and let him walk. They also are showcasing Teague in the dleague for a small trade like James Johnson before him. Forman's pretty consistent in what he does, they don't trade 1st round picks and hold onto rotation players way too long and are hesitant to trade for a scoring star like Carmelo Anthony or whoever become available. They do of course go for the big free agent market with shining prizes like Ben Wallace and Carlos Boozer. The Bulls only hope is if Mirotic becomes a star and thats all they're banking on right now.

  • I read Aggrey Sam's piece yesterday. I think it was actually written by Deng's Agent, typical homer fluff piece by him, that's what he does.

    Deng may well end up being the beneficiary of what turns out to be a depleted free agent market(if the big name guys all stay put) but then, just like his current contract, he will be overpaid(perhaps massively) and untradeable from day one from a basketball standpoint. The question is do the Bulls want to be the team overpaying him and stuck with him again for the next 4 years when his decline will only become more pronounced.

    While you might take Deng back at Taj Gibson money, it is clear there is no way Deng is sticking around for that. The article makes it seem like he wants exactly what I believe they asked for last summer, a new deal starting at his current salary plus the maximum allowable raises per year which would put him at around $15 million to start next season. So basically, you are replacing the bozohole's salary slot with Deng and extending it for 3 years, anybody really want to do that, even if Deng is the vastly superior effort player.

    Also, signing him for 4 years would take us out of the free agency market for the next 4 seasons, not just next summer, in particular the summer of 2015 and 2016 when Kevin Love and Kevin Durrant could/will be free agents.

    As some have mentioned before Deng is, always has been, and always will be a damned if you do and damned if you don't type player. After 10 years of being damned if you do, I am ready to try damned if you don't. Really, what have we got to lose, that we already haven't gained over the past 10 seasons.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Which article did you read?!! Because what I got out of it is that Deng doesn't want to go anywhere! This is the only place he's known and if it comes down to a team that's offering him more money but not an organization know for winning it's going to be tough. The guy talked about the coaching staff and the organization like the bulls are the best. It sounds like he's going to stay unless someone gives him an offer he can't refuse! Even then he may not take it seems as if his heart is with the bulls.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    Irregardless of what it sounds like, he will stay if the Bulls offer the most money and the most years, otherwise he will go to whichever other team does so.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Really, what have we got to lose, that we already haven't gained over the past 10 seasons."

    Exactly 1 (one) ECF win over 10 seasons. That's what Bulls would be passing on with Deng.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    We need to amnesty Carlos Boozer get rid of Deng then we would have some money to get Kevin Love or Lamarcus Aldridge.

  • More bad news on the tanking front, with Al Horford done for the season, does Atlanta go from solid playoff team, to tank contender.

    Also, this just in

    Adrian Wojnarowski: It's very possible Bynum's played his final game for Cavs, sources tell Yahoo. In trade, a team can waive Bynum and save $6m of $12m salary. Twitter @WojYahooNBA -

    doesn't that look like the ultimate solution to the Bulls "Deng conundrum" Trade Deng for Bynum and a #1 pick, waive Bynum save $8.3 million in salary thus getting out of the tax while getting a #1 pick. Of course then Bynum signs with Miami or the Clips and that would kind of suck, but that is really not the Bulls problem, at least this season.

    You could do Deng for Bynum and Waiters, but that only saves the Bulls $4.4 million, which doesn't quite get them under the tax, and doesn't contribute to tanking as well as a draft pick does.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Atlanta gets whichever pick is 'better' between their own and Brooklyn. With Lopez out and the Nets' season in a downward spiral, I think Atlanta will still aim to be a playoff team while likely swapping picks with Brooklyn for a top 5-10 pick.

  • In reply to Motoman:

    Atlanta will definitely "aim" for that. Whether they have the horses without Horford is another question.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Deng for Bynum and a 1st makes sense to me.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You were dead on with your first post analysis of the Deng history. I fully agree. He has been a decent player, but not in the playoffs, and if the team resigns him, fans will be squawking about it for years -- properly so.

    Then you wrote, "Trade Deng for Bynum and a #1 pick, waive Bynum save $8.3 million in salary thus getting out of the tax while getting a #1 pick." Very smart move, which is why the FO probably won't make it if it's there! Altho I doubt Cleveland would include their #1 pick anyway.

    I do not think the Bulls will be able to get both a young prospect and a #1 pick for Deng, which supposedly is what they are seeking. I see Phoenix as a better landing spot for Deng, since it is rapidly improving and he would enjoy it there. However, Cleveland would be better for Chicago as Cleveland now has a worse record than the Bulls.

    What is worse than bidding low for a player and not signing him? Bidding too high and getting him! That is what I fear most with Deng. Second worst would be letting him walk for nothing. We should hope the FO is waiting for the best deal for Deng, but I hope they do not wait too long!

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I'll settle for either the Cleveland deal or a Phoenix deal, as long as we at least get back a #1 pick. I'd even do a Lakers deal for Gasol, if it came with their #1 pick, but no way are they taking boozers 2014-15 salary.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    If the Lakers get Deng and Boozer, their #1 will be worth less! I too would do the Lakers deal, even tho you and I would be soooo disappointed to lose the Booz. (I was a poet and I didn't even know it.)! The Bulls have a better chance of getting the 1st and 2nd pick in the lottery!

    I think the Cleveland or Phoenix deal may well happen. If so, and if one ot the Bulls' picks winds up in the top 5, dont be surprised if FAs start talking to Bulls FO about coming to Chicago.

  • From Larry Coon's(the salary cap guy) recent chat

    "Pau’s trade value? A colleague close to the Chicago situation told me he thought they’d jump at a chance to unload Boozer with Deng. Such a deal would get the Lakers the kind of player they’d be going after this summer, but they’d be able to do it with Bird rights, so they wouldn’t need to renounce players in order to generate cap room. The Lakers’ free agent years would then be 2015 (e.g. Kevin Love), and 2016, when Kobe comes off the books."

    Don't know about that one, basically give Deng away to salary dump one year of boozer. I guess if your letting Deng walk next summer it makes sense financially to save the boozer(amnesty) money. However, Deng and boozer make just short of $30 million while Gasol makes just short of $20 million plus a trade kicker of $3 million, so the cap math doesn't work without the bulls taking back some more salary. Plus, Gasol looks like death warmed over lately, and would likely turn into an even bigger mope a dope in Chicago's winter weather. But on the other hand no more boozerpaloozafest, hmmm.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    If I'm the Bulls, I'd want the Lakers 1st rounder, but since that is likely a lottery pick this season, I don't see the Lakers doing that.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    If you get the Lakers first you jump at that deal. If you don't, it seems like an awful expensive play. You can probably find some other shlub to make the salary work on the Lakers end, and the Bulls can probably get out from under the tax with the deal too.

  • Good article, except for you wanting the Bulls to tank.

  • BigWay,

    I almost like your which does look like the ultimate solution to the Bulls "Deng conundrum." I call my idea "Rent a Deng" Trade Deng and Teague for Bynum, Tristan Thompson and a #1 pick, waive Bynum save $5 million in salary thus lowering of the tax while getting a #1 pick and a good experienced player. Of course then Bynum signs with Miami or the Clips and is not the Bulls problem, at least this season. During the summer Deng who probably already has the deal signed and sealed returns to Chicago after Chicago gets the super star they want.

  • In reply to penwit1:

    The Bulls won't have anything to offer Deng except the minimum next summer if they bring Mirotic over.

  • In reply to DougThonus:


  • fb_avatar
    In reply to penwit1:

    Cavs want to get rid of Bynum...but I don't think they want to do it at the cost of a 1st and Thompson.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Deng for Bynum and the #1 pick would be great.

    I actually like the Laker deal even better if they include their #1 pick, but it will not be a lottery pick if they get Deng and Boozer.

  • The owner is cheap.
    The FO is stupid.
    Derrick Rose was a fringe top-5 player at his best.

    Yet, the Bulls were a top-4 NBA team. How is this possible?

    I'll hang up and listen for the bashing of me, the FO and the owner.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    It is one of the many mysteries of the universe and impossible to explain!

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