A month without Luol Deng

A month without Luol Deng

So it's been roughly a month since the Bulls traded Luol Deng. They've fared better without Deng than with him, but it'd be a great disservice to Deng to connect the dots with such a low level of analysis. For his part, after an initial hot start, Deng's performance has dipped since heading to the Cavaliers likely a bi-product of their team dysfunction as much as anything.

Since the trade, the Bulls are 11-7. They were 10-13 with Deng prior to the trade. Granted six of those 10 wins came prior to Derrick Rose tearing his meniscus, many of the losses also came during the period where the Bulls were missing other players, and were dealing with the initial shock of the Rose injury.

The team was clearly in a bad funk right after the injury prior to bouncing back.

However, the biggest difference between the Bulls record with and without Deng likely isn't Deng himself, it's D.J. Augustin. The Bulls replaced Marquis Teague and his .1 PER with D.J. Augustin and his 16.5. Beyond the overall statistical dominance that Augustin has brought to the table ahead of Teague, he also provides the shooting the Bulls have clearly lacked as a team.

Mike Dunleavy and Tony Snell have also played far more minutes and while Dunleavy's shooting numbers have dipped considerably since the trade and Snell's haven't been that great to begin with, team's still have to defend those guys out closer to the three point line than they did Deng. All in all, the Bulls interior scoring seems better in the absence of Deng and better spacing is a part of that.

Without ever being able to produce a consistent three point shot, the Bulls were always going to have some issues given that their other two primary wing players also lacked consistent three point shots.

Rose, Butler, and Deng would have been a terror defensively, but opponents would have happily defended 18 feet and in all the way around the court against that group. This doesn't mean Deng had to go, but Rose certainly isn't going [even if we're scared about his health] and Butler doesn't look like a guy who will cost 12 million dollars.

SFs frequently don't have great three point shots, but PGs and SGs typically do. I've always though an effective offense needs quality three point shooting from two of those three positions on the court most of the time. The Bulls tired to get away with three guys who were below average.

We'll never know for sure how it would have worked, but hopefully Chicago finds a way to address this weakness while adding a multi-dimensional player this off-season. Either someone who can shoot and create off the dribble or a spot up shooter who can also defend. Maybe Tony Snell can qualify as the second of those to things if he improves, but he's far away from that goal right now.

How's Deng look in Cleveland?

pts/36: 16.2
rbs/36: 5.4
ast/36: 2.3
FG%: 42.6%
3pt%: 33.3%
eFG%: 46.6%
TS%: 51.4%
PER: 15.2

These numbers are generally down from his stats as a Bull this season, but they're in-line with what Deng did the previous two years with the Bulls. Some may say the Cavaliers are dragging Deng back down, but I think it's more likely that Deng is just falling back down to the player he's been for most of his prime.

Now Kyrie Irving's either a terrible PG or has simply lost all trust in everyone wearing a yellow uniform, because he hangs onto the ball like its his soul on offense. For a smart player, it's easy to see where a lack of ball movement would cut into one or two easy shots a game for Deng and slow him down a tick, so I won't completely discount the Cleveland factor.

That said, it makes me wonder just what Deng's value will be this off-season. Deng scoffed at a 10 million dollar offer from the Bulls, but looking at Deng play for another team? Looking at the Bulls not really missing him [I certainly don't think they're better without him, but they obviously aren't falling apart to any degree either].

All in all, he looks like the MVP of role players to me. A guy you'd love to have on your team, but not the guy you want to pay big money to. With Chris Grant fired, I'll also be curious to see if Cleveland is committed to resigning Deng if he continues to perform at this level. Prior to Grant going, the Cavs likely would have heaped money at Deng to try and prove themselves right.

They still might. However, with Grant gone they can just throw Deng away and say it was a bad trade by the former GM. All in all, I don't see quality organizations climbing over themselves to offer Deng an eight figure deal which means he may have to choose between big bucks and a nice work environment.

I think Luol Deng has had the opportunity Ben Gordon wishes he had before heading to free agency. A chance to see how crappy it can be to make big bucks in a dysfunctional environment. I'll be curious to see what Deng does with the situation.

I will say this, I wouldn't be surprised if in the long run Deng finds himself regretting turning down the Bulls 3/30 extension. He may get more money, or he may find another good team to go to, but I'm betting he won't get both.

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  • Yeah only a fool would give this guys 14-16 mil a year. Great guy but terribly overpriced. I could see a 7-8 mil a year deal but anything over that is just too much for a non impact player. It was time to move on and he has no one to blame for his ending up in Cleveland but himself. I thought the Bulls offer was more than generous and would rather not see Deng resign for 3 - 30. Rather have an impact player or playmaker for that money. Heck we don't even need a superstar just a guy with the right skillset like Nate and DJ although preferably in a SG sized body.

  • In reply to Chad:

    I agree. Lance Stephenson for $10 million per seems like more bang for the buck! Plus he has the potential to become elite. The Bulls need to spend for those guys.

    Lance, Mirotic, and a great draft should have the Bulls contending next season.

    One big question -- What trades will the team make in the next few days? I don't think they trade Taj unless it's to move way up in the draft.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    All it takes is one team, and I think someone will step up and offer Stephenson $12M/year on a long-term deal.

  • In reply to RichG:

    You could well be correct.

    What is worse than underbidding for a guy and missing him? Overbidding and getting him! Another matter of talent evaluation. Still, he might take a million less to come to Chicago, who will have Rose, Mirotic, Noah, Taj, and decent pieces -- and that could be even more true if Chicago has a good draft.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Or, he might take $2M less and stay with the Pacers.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Stephenson will get overpaid and blow up(in a bad way) after he gets paid. Whoever gets him will regret it, and look to dump him by his second year with the team, if it even takes that long. Probably the only place that he has a chance to not go bad is Indy, with Daddy Bird looking over him.

  • Still, Deng seems like a good guy and I hope it works out for him. But I am glad the bulls cut bait and traded him. Even if it's one step back, they can much more easily take two steps forward now.

  • Question to Doug and other fans on this site: With the information we've gained over the past month, what would you consider a good contract for Deng from the team's perspective? How high would you be willing to go? Do you think $10MM per year would have been a good spend?

    I guess I'm saying, even 3 years for $30MM might have been too much but I'd say it's probably about right. Deng certainly doesn't deserve more than that based on his contributions to winning.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Is he worth more than either Taj or Jimmy, I say no. So he is not worth even $8 million per, we'll see what Jimmy ends up getting, but right now it doesn't look like he is getting more than Taj, thank God.

    I've been trading him since the day before he signed his deal. It looks like I was correct all along, it just took nearly 6 years for reality to catch up with my perception.

  • I think we should go after Tyreke Evans while his stock is low with the Pelicans and before Eric Gordan is dealt.
    He can play the 1-3 positions and has good size at 6'6" and strong football type build like Rose but 3" taller...Kinda cool that Memphis produced 2 ROYs back to back with DRose and Tyreke Evans! :-)


    Evans is making $11.8M this year then down to $10.2 thru 16/17'.

    Austin Rivers, a Chicago kid, son of Thib's mentor Doc Rivers is making $2.3M this year with a team option next year of $2.4M.

    I would love if we could trade Boozer for these 2 young kids!
    Boozer is making $15.3M this year, $16.8M next year.
    Pelicans would have to send us $1.2M back in a filler to equal Boozer's salary.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Since Pelicans are well below the salary cap, they could take on additional salary and we could shed some if we sent over Boozer and got back 2 players (Evans, Rivers, wouldn't mind Greg S. a tall Wisconsin kid)! :-) But we would have to sweeten the deal with sending them Boozer...maybe Butler but that would sting! Snell not as much but I think he could turn out good for us even if just a defensive wing defender with this long arms and height! :-)
    You have to give to get and dumping Boozer without needing to Amesty him would be great! Even if we are on the hook with Evans for a few years, but his salary is front loaded and $10.3M 16/17' isn't bad at all for a aggressive muscular brute offensive player that has played PG/SG/SF! :-)

  • In reply to smiley:

    C'mon man, get a grip, wake up and smell the coffee Nobody is trading us anything more than a steaming pile of shit for Boozer(otherwise known as Amare's contract), never mind 2 young guys who just haven't panned out yet.

    From what I read, the Pelli's want to dump Gordon more than Evans, and while I like a lot of what Evans brings, he still can't shoot the rock, especially 3's. He's kind of like an obnoxious offensively talented version of Jimmy Butler. Better or worse than Stephenson, best use of our only cap space for the next 3 summers. Rose, Evans, Butler as our primary wings for the next 3 seasons, and no cap room to boot. Is that enough to be any better than we have been over the Rose era?

    Look, I would have traded Deng for Evans pretty much anytime since Evans came into the league, but there must be some personality issues that we won't find out about until it is too late.

  • Deng at $10m/yr 3 years I feel is still a decent buy for the Bulls if they can't get more of a scoring SG/SF like Tyreke Evans who makes $11.8M/yr. I love our team, but we need more offensively talented players! You can only go so far with offense! Right now Taj is our leading offensive player the past few games with Boozer out! That's very sad!

  • The bottom line is that the Bulls need a shot creator more then they needed a very good system team player in Deng. He's definitely worth 10 million and I'm sure he'll find his way to a good team like the Mavs or maybe the up and coming Suns. I see him going somewhere to the western conference. For the Bulls, we need scoring-shot creation-ball handling-three point shooting skills in one of our wing players. Butler functions like a Deng even though he doesn't have the talent like Deng, he basically gives the team that glue guy defense role. I'm not sure who they can target or if they intend to draft this player, it does seem Mirotic wants big bucks to come over and the mle might not be enough. Look at the end of the day Noah-Rose are the only "untouchables", everybody else including Butler and Gibson can be packaged to net an allstar who wants a change of scenary. Can Garpax work some magic or will they just hope they can get the next Gibson/Butler in the draft and not marquis teague. The Pelicans and Suns are said to be very active in trade talks, I want to hear the Bulls name in that conversation.

  • Deng is worth $10 million on the right team. Doug hit it on the head when he said that the Bulls PG-SG-SF cannot shoot, so 1 of them had to go.

    I think if teams have good shooting at other positions, Deng could be a great find at $8-10mil.

    However, it's rare to find a team with such great shooting, and I think, to Doug's point, Chicago's resurgence without Deng and Cleveland's continued collapse with Deng speaks for itself. Too bad, but if Deng finished his year in Chicago, he probably gets $12-$13 mil/year. Now, probably $8-10 mil max, but not a penny more. He's just a guy now.

    Interesting note on Augustine:
    ESPN "rumors" had a write up the other day about how there will be few Augstine suitors. Not many teams need a PG and some would rather go with a younger option - using the draft, according to the article. One of those teams in need of a PG may be Toronto, but they just released him.

    So, with Deng gone and Boozer possibly Amnestied, Augustine can probably be resigned for 4 years $15 million - ish. Somewhere around $4 mil/year should get it done - and that may be high if ESPN is correct and there is little interest. Maybe you get him for $2-3 mil/year?

    Remember, Robinson, Watson and Lucas III? None broke the bank and they had career years with the Bulls.

    I think it depends on if Mello is in play, too.

    I think the options to sign Mirotic and Augustine into cap space make amnestying Boozer more likely. (now, if Mirotic signs the MLE and Augustine the bi-annual, then it's a moot point... and maybe Boozer stays - because the team is better with him, no matter what you guys all say!)

  • In reply to Granby:

    Excellent points, at least until you got to the last sentence.

    Have you been watching the past few games never mind the past few seasons. The Bulls don't miss boozer at all other than needing another body to fill up some minutes. If we don't miss Deng, we certainly will never miss Boozer, in fact, losing him is the definition of addition by subtraction. If we had 2 Taj's or 2 Noah's we'd be kicking ass right now and boozer would never see the court again.

    If we have Mirotic and Taj next season, exactly how is team even in need of his useless body never mind being better with it.

    By the way, did anybody catch the halftime of yesterdays game when Jalen Rose and Simmons took shots at boozer for missing time due to a wounded ego, and then Van Gundy going off on him to start the second half. That should have been one of those "priceless" mastercard commercials.

  • And, let's not get excited about Tyreke Evens, please. He's more of a slasher, certainly not a floor spacer. He's the last thing we need, especially with his contract.

    Stephenson is a possibility, but I just don't know about him... he leads the NBA is bonehead plays. Watch him for a half and you'll see a multiple dumb moves - he's either out of control, throwing the ball away, forcing a bad shot. Thibs would kill him and I think as fans, we would, too. I'm sure the Bulls will be involved in the bidding, though, as they should.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I agree, Stay off the boozer juice and you'll do just fine.

  • I continue to say that the Bulls need shooters. Period. Why I think Nik Stauskis would be a nice fit... he's a gamer and a pure shooter.

    I'd rather have a shooting sensation that can handle the ball some and create some. Think Marco Belinelli.

    Rose is the best creator in the NBA - when healthy. Butler can create some and get to the foul like - when healthy.

    Chicago needs floor spacing. Adding a shooting wing and Mirotic should do wonders. Add those two players and a healthy Rose, and we're back in business.

  • In reply to Granby:

    I agree that the Bulls need shooting, but it is more than that. Heck, they had Korver, who is the very definition of a shooter, with the quickest release this side of Ray Allen, but Miami made him disappear when they beat the Bulls in the ECF. And that was when Rose was at his peak. The Heat made sure they took away Rose and Korver and they felt like they didn't have anything to worry about.

    If somehow the Bulls could get two great shooters that might do the trick. The Spurs showed how to beat the Heat when they had multiple guys knocking down threes early in the NBA finals, but you need to make sure those shooters are at least passable defensively as the Spurs guys are.

    I still think the Bulls need a secondary shot creator. Butler is not that guy. Maybe he is in a game in February, but not when the games matter.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Agree again, just add Mirotic and solve the 2 guard problem and we should be a force. The question is, who is the answer, and how do we get him. Stephenson, Evans, Afflalo, Wiggins? Other than Lebron, there is no guaranteed answer.

  • I think some team will give DJ a pretty good offer..,and higher than the Bulls. I see him as a Starter on a bottom 3rd NBA team and one of the very best 2nd string PG in the entire League.

    His scoring is above average, his assisting is getting better as he starts to know our teams offense, and his "D" is below average a bit(especially due to his height), but he tries hard for the most part which fits in well with Thibs and his philosophy.

    I know we have many pieces to the puzzle for next year, and I hope DJ is one that fits.

    PS--He is great insurance for Rose just in case he gets injured AGAIN.

    Hey, Toronto must be really good to cut him, heh!!!

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Our offense especially when Rose is out over empasizes the shot creator role. Meaning it wouldn't be a surprise to see DJ go to another team and dissapear just like Nate and JL3 did. Our team lacks scorers like no other which is probably why we are the worst offense in the league. So when we have a guy who likes to create and score we lean heavily on him. Maybe if Garpax could build a balanced roster we couldn't keep grabbing guys on vet minimum deals year after year and making them look like stars because no one on our team can create a shot.

  • Trading Snell and Dunleavy should give the Bulls $14.7 million under the cap according to Mark Deeks, the NBA cap guy.

    I think getting Mirotic for the MLE is not happening.

    Could Bulls pay Mirotic $4, $6, $8, $10 million, or $7 mil/year... and then,

    sign Stephenson to $10.7, $12, $14, $16 million? Just north of $13 million.

    Snell becomes expendable. So does Augustin due to Stephenson's playmaking. So does Dunleavy's shooting with these two adds.

  • Hoops nation reporting Bulls Knicks have been in trade talks. Let the rumors begin huh?

    Bulls--Carmelo, Iman Shumpart, Raymond Felton

    Knicks-Boozer, Hinrich, Bulter, Snell, 1round pick

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    I'd love to see the Knicks try to sell their uber-expensive courtside seats to customers salivating at the prospect of watching Boozer and Hinrich run the pick-and-roll. Knicks fans have shown remarkable patience over the years, but I don't think even they would tolerate this. A trade like this might send them into full-on revolt.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    Just reporting the parameters of the trade according to hoops nation...LOL and I actually think this a good start to a legit potential trade...boozer contract expires when big stars are available in 2015 along with amare, Tyson, and Andre...kirk hinrich expires this season..along bulls giving knicks young assets and picks...they also dump ray Felton 3 year contract on bulls. Iman shumpart need change of scenery. Knicks are down on him right now.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    Holding out hope for a big-time free agent landed the Knicks Amare who in the end will have had one good year on a 5-year max deal so I am not sure how confident they are in that whole process, though being the Knicks they think everyone wants to play there. Remember, Dolan was the guy who drove the trade for Melo over the objections of Donnie Walsh. Dolan is not the type to admit to a mistake, which he would be doing if he trades Melo. So, unless Melo has told them he is unlikely to re-sign with them I can't imagine them moving him. I agree that they would love to get rid of Felton, but I am not so sure they feel the need to give up on Shumpert. It is much more likely they get rid of the coach, who they might think is to blame for Shumpert's woes. Obviously, in the end it is about Melo, while Felton and Shumpert are after-thoughts. If he has indicated to the Knicks he would like to be elsewhere then I can see some sort of deal happening, but if not, I cannot imagine him being dealt.

  • In reply to bjb57:

    I really think bulls are all in on Carmelo. So I guess we will see at the trade deadline what Carmelo's answer is. If he tells Knicks he's not signing he will get traded and I think the bulls will get him.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    I like it!

    Shumpert and Butler are kinda a wash though IMO. I think that is a good base for a trade and would bring more balance offensively to the Bulls.


    I like it! A balance lineup who would have thought it possible... You can hide Melo between Taj and Shump on defense and hide Shump on offense with Melo and Rose dominating the ball.

  • In reply to bullzfan:

    Is Isaiah Dumars Jordan running the Knicks this week, if he is jump on him before Dolan wakes up.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Don't know don't care! If its true I like it! It suppose to be PARAMETERS for a trade...not a trade that's imminent..knicks can soon ask for taj and Noah if this is a legit.rumor..so stop with the oh so great enthusiasm and the corny name calling...gettin kinda lame.
    Probably something made up since no other sites are taking about it anyway..but it is an interesting start of discussions if true

  • With regards to yesterday’s podcast, here’s the lowdown on Miami: With no clear landing spot for Lebron, the question is: Will he sign a new max 5 year extension, or just opt in and go year-to-year? As for Wade, since the Heat can no longer count on his knees, they should just let him play out the final two years of his contract, and then re-evaluate. No one’s going to offer Wade a long-term deal at max money. As for Bosh, the Heat should rip up his current deal, and offer him a new 4 year deal at max money, the same as any outside team can and will offer. The Heat should not give him the additional 5th year. His game should translate well throughout his early thirties, and he’s healthy. Bosh turns 30 next month. As long as the Big 3 are back, I expect Oden, Birdman, Cole, and Beasley to be back. I’m not sure if they can still afford Chalmers? Battier and Allen may need to be replaced.

  • By the way anybody know who that Kareem Abdul Kaman guy was that lit up the Bulls last night. Is he the same guy that the genius offensive coach D'Antoni has kept glued to the bench all season despite not having enough guys to fill up a starting lineup.

  • How good a trade is this for the Bulls?

    Bulls get -- Carmelo, Iman Shumpart, Raymond Felton

    Knicks get -- Boozer, Hinrich, Bulter, Snell, 1round pick

    1) If the Bulls do this, they save about $10 million on Boozer's salary for next year ($16.5 million less $6 million he'll get from another team). But they will have to pay Felton, so the savings is way less than $10 million for one year.
    2) However, they will still have to move Taj to have the cap space to resign Melo!
    3) If they get Melo as a FA, they still will have to move Taj, but they will keep Butler, Snell, and their 1st round pick. Plus they would not have to carry Felton's contract.
    4) Bottom line -- if we feel Butler = Shumpert, then this is a bad deal for Chicago! Better to wait for Melo as a FA.

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