The Bulls may have insisted they wouldn't trade Luol Deng in a salary dump and demanded assets back, but that doesn't necessarily appear to be the case. This is a move that had to be done, a move which likely couldn't have been done earlier, but the protection on that Sacramento pick makes the move somewhat dicey for Chicago.
The primary asset the Bulls received in this trade was the ability to get under the luxury tax. This will allow Chicago to pay the tax in two seasons without having to go into the repeater penalty. The move saves Chicago roughly 15 million dollars, and in a dead season, that's not a bad thing. Especially since ownership showed they'd pay with a real shot to win.
In that sense, I think it was a good move. It was a move that had to be done and had a very real deadline of today to get completed so that the Bulls could waive Andrew Bynum prior to his guarantee date. The move wasn't going to get done earlier without the pressure of Bynum's deadline. I'm not sure which side caved at the end [if the Bulls were asking for more, or the Cavs finally ponied up something extra], but I suspect it was the Cavs since they were shopping all around.
It would have been nice if the Bulls could have made the move weeks ago, took back the signing of D.J. Augustin and have themselves squarely pointed at a bottom three finish, but that wasn't in the cards because the Cavs were still shopping for a better deal then.
As for the other assets?
That Sacramento first might be a second
The Kings pick is top 12 protected this season (the Bulls aren't getting it this season) and top 10 protected for the next three years after that. If it doesn't land out of the protection, then it becomes a second rounder rather than ever becoming unprotected. In essence, start rooting for the Kings.
I think there's a very real chance this pick never becomes a first rounder for Chicago, and I'm a bit disappointed that the Bulls weren't able to get Cleveland to commit with their own pick even if it had some good protection on it. Even if Chicago does get this pick, the fact that the highest it can be is #11, and could easily come in a bad draft means it has very little value. It has no significant upside.
Those second rounders are crap
The Bulls also receive a couple second rounders from the Portland Trailblazers, but with the Blazers playing so well, those look completely worthless. Maybe Chicago can stash someone overseas, but by the time those picks are made even the guys worth stashing are all gone.
Second rounders are really only valuable when in the 31-40 range for the most part, and Chicago likely won't be picking in that range.
Pick swap might produce some value
The pick swap with Cleveland for 2015 is an added bonus, but no given to produce much value. Since the pick swap is lottery protected, the Bulls would need to be better than the Cavs while the Cavs would also need to still make the playoffs.
Both these scenarios are possible, and if I trusted Derrick Rose's knee, I'd say likely. Perhaps the Bulls can move up from 23 to 17 or something of that nature with this pick swap, but the Cavs will likely need to resign Deng in order to have playoff potential next season. Something which isn't a lock.
Grading the move....
Financially it's an A+ move. There were only a handful of trades in the NBA that could have gotten them under the tax. On court value, it's probably a D+. Could the Bulls have gotten more on the court? Possibly, but certainly not while avoiding the luxury tax.
Would Phoenix have given the Bulls two for sure first rounders [though not great ones] in this draft + Okafor for Deng? Quite possibly.
In that sense, I think the Bulls choose to go for the financial impact first and foremost, but the financial impact will also likely allow management to spend in the future which is probably worth more than getting dicey first rounders from Phoenix this season even if they only end up with dicey ones from the Kings later.
Overall, I don't think the Bulls could have really done better in this deal, so it's hard to complain overly much. The deal comes after the Bulls won too many games to realistically fight for a top five slot in the draft which is my only disappointment [even if I understand those extra wins probably earned the Bulls the 1st rounder they wouldn't have gotten otherwise].
It's Snell time
With Deng gone, the Bulls will get to take a good long look at Tony Snell whom they're quite high on. Snell has shown flashes of very good play, but he's too passive and streaky shooting the ball for my tastes so far. I think it will be a great opportunity to get a good long look at Snell though and see what he brings to the table in the future.
Tough break for Thibs/Rose
The one unavoidable negative in this deal is you likely pissed off your superstar coach and player. However, your superstar player is still living in a fantasy world that he hasn't let you down by destroying your last three seasons while eating up 30% of the cap. He needs to prove something to Chicago before Chicago can worry about his hurt feelings.
I'm not upset at Rose for being injured, but the Bulls couldn't continue to build and go on and spend like Rose is going to be healthy until he can prove he'll actually be healthy for a season. Making short term moves always positions you worse for the future, and unless Rose can show the Bulls have a legitimate chance to win behind him, it makes more sense to give themselves more flexibility.
Thibodeau's a tough nut to crack in this scenario as well. I think he's one of the best coaches in the NBA, but his craziness when it comes to minutes combined with his present feud with management make it seem quite possible that he parts ways with Chicago this summer in a deal that sends him to L.A. for some type of compensation. You know Kobe would love it.
It'd be better sweet for Chicago, because in some ways, I think Thibodeau's balls to the walls regular season approach might never allow a championship. It's just tough to see any team he coaches ever staying healthy enough to compete for the title, but the odds of getting someone even close to as good as Thibs if he leaves are also low.
It's somewhat of a lose/lose for Chicago whatever goes down there. Either way, after having his favorite assistant axed this summer and his favorite player traded away now, bet on Thibs not being a happy camper.
In the end...
It was a deal that had to be made. It wasn't soon enough, and it wasn't as much value as hoped, but it was still the right move. Now the front office's real work of rebuilding this thing begins.