The 2013-2014 NBA season has been a struggle for many teams that were expected to make great leaps forward. The Chicago Bulls were one of those organizations as they were building off of a strong playoff run last season and the return of their point guard, Derrick Rose. Unfortunately, the luster of a new season quickly wore off and now the team is attempting to play without Luol Deng who was sent away in a trade that hasn't been popular with many.
Announced early on Tuesday, the Bulls sent Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum, three draft picks and the right to swap first-round picks in the 2015 lottery if the Cavaliers are not a part of the lottery draft. This deal came to fruition when it was revealed that Deng was not interested in signing a contract extension. The move will save the team $20 million dollars in an effort that sets them back currently with the intention of bringing pieces to the roster in the future. With their struggles continuing to build this was the first move that was made to take steps toward rebuilding the organization as a whole.
That doesn't make this move sting any less however. Deng has long been one of the Bulls best players, both with and without Rose on the roster. This season he was averaging 19 points, 3.7 assists and 6.9 rebounds per outing which were an improvement over his career numbers across the board. The 28 year old has been hampered by injuries in recent years, but he's still be on the court for more games than he's missed; which can't be said by other star players at this time. Deng has been one of the most attractive trade pieces for many teams in the past few years but this move wasn't the type of blockbuster deal that was expected.
Rumors came out that Coach Tom Thibodeau was unhappy with the move; especially after the organization immediately waived the embattled Bynum on Tuesday, but the club has stated that relationships between the front office and coach are “really good.”
The contract space and three draft picks are very valuable at this point for the Bulls. The team can place themselves in the hunt of big name free agents that will come out in the next few months and have the opportunity to grab a few players through the draft as well.
Deng is moving on to a Cleveland Cavaliers team that is having a hard season as well. He's a strong improvement over their current small forward in Earl Clark and there are a number of pieces that he will perform nicely with if they mesh together. The Cavs will have another weapon to go along with Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, especially if Deng can be convinced to sign a long term deal with the organization.
Chicago Bulls fans woke up to an unhappy announcement on Tuesday when Luol Deng was taken from their ball club. In an effort to build for the future the Bulls are moving into the rebuilding phases that many organizations go through. Still, the Sudan native will be missed throughout the city and on the court.