NBA Trade Headlines: Cleveland Cavaliers acquire Luol Deng for Andrew Bynum, Future Picks

If you weren’t awake in the wee hours of the day this morning, you may or may not have heard that Luol Deng is no longer a Chicago Bull. The Chicago Bulls have traded Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum and a slew of future draft picks according to Real GM. The draft picks that the Cavaliers will be sending the Bulls are as follows:

  • A Sacramento Kings 2014 draft pick that is top 12 lottery protected
  • A Portland Trail Blazers 2015 second round pick
  • A Portland Trail Blazers 2016 second round draft pick

The Chicago Bulls also reserve the right to swap draft picks with the Cavaliers in 2015 if the pick is between 15-30 according to the Cavaliers press release. The Kings draft pick will likely roll over to 2015 with the Kings picking in the top 12 this season. In 2015, the Kings draft pick will be top 10 protected.

This deal will allow the Chicago Bulls to save more than $15 mil in salary by trading Luol Deng and waiving Andrew Bynum–as they are expected to. Bynum is only guaranteed $6 million if he is waived before tomorrow’s deadline. The Bulls were set to pay Luol Deng  $14.2 million this season.

Rumor had it that the Bulls front office was looking to move forward into the future with a new roster as their current one continued to age without star point guard, Derrick Rose. Rose, having his second major knee surgery in three years had the Bulls ready to blow this team up. Luol Deng was the first piece to go, but will likely not be the last.

Tom Thibodeau’s relationship with Luol Deng was one that he valued. He wanted to keep Deng on the roster, and with Deng moved you can only expect things to get worse with Thibodeau and the front office. But Deng is going to be 29 by next season and wants to be paid around the same amount he is now. The Bulls reportedly offered Deng a three year, $30 million extension that he rejected. That rejection was what facilitated this trade according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Bulls get at least one future first round pick and will get below the luxury tax line with this trade. They will now have three first round picks if the Charlotte Bobcats can stick out of the top 10 and the Sacramento Kings can stay from out of the top 12. The Bulls are in a good position to build for their future–not to mention that they weren’t going to be very good in the present. They’ll have a high draft pick this season in a loaded draft. Sure, this isn’t what we expected from out of the Bulls this season, but it’s probably for the best.

Deng’s departure had likely been long overdue after the mishap that he had last season with the Chicago Bulls’ training staff. The Bulls relationship with Deng and Thibs had soured. Deng reportedly wanted at least $14 mil in an extension and the Bulls just weren’t going to give him that. Deng is an injury prone wing going on the back end of his career. He is an All-Star and his scoring had improved this season, for what it’s worth. However, he wasn’t going to be apart of the long term plan for this team.

Now, as for Cleveland, they gave up three confirmed picks and a possible fourth. However, they get to ship out Bynum who had been permitted to stay away from the team and just didn’t seem to fit on the roster at all. Bynum had some solid appearances with the Cavs but, overall, he wasn’t the steal that the Cavaliers thought he was going to be. The undisclosed suspension and the request to stay away from team activities was the straw that broke the camel’s back, essentially.

And this is the exact reason why the math on Bynum’s deal is the way that it is. It was a low risk deal for the Cavaliers when they signed him because of the guaranteed amount. The Cavs would only owe him $6 million if he was waived before January 7th. They were able to ship him off to the Bulls and upgrade their small forward position in the meantime. The Cavaliers desperately needed help at the position with Anthony Bennett not panning out and Alonzo Gee, Earl Clark and C.J. Miles being their only options to choose from.

Deng gives them a great two way presence that will surely improve their middle-of-the-pack defense. He brings a craftiness on the defensive end that the Cavaliers just didn’t have before this trade. The only problem that I can see with the trade is the amount they spent to get Deng when he could really just be a rental.

Deng’s deal is an expiring one this season. If the Cavaliers don’t make the playoffs or improve, Deng may just walk in free agency. If that happens, then they’ll have surrendered their draft picks for essentially nothing. Now, the picks aren’t going to be that high because of the protection. And the Cavaliers still own their first round picks this season and next season. If they are a horrible team, then they’ll be able to still improve through the draft and free agency.

But thing that could make this trade sour is if the Cavaliers extend Deng for the $14+ mil that he wants. Again, he’s going to be 29 years old. He’s averaging 19.0 points in 37.4 minutes of play this season while shooting 45% from the floor–all solid marks. He’s going to be the second best scorer on the Cavs and should fit in well enough with Kyrie Irving that the Cavaliers do improve and make the playoffs in a dreadful Eastern Conference. But going forward, giving Deng a four year deal for more than $40 million is treading dangerous water with his injury history and his age. His decline will happen sooner rather than later.

The Cavaliers may have ended up with a high draft pick in this year’s loaded class, but should Deng improve this team and help them make the playoffs they may lose a shot at acquiring marquee young, talented players. The risk is well worth the reward in the short term, but as far as long term this move may end up biting the Cavs in the future.

We can only wait and see how things play out, but for right now I’d say this is a solid deal for both sides. Even though the Cavaliers probably gave up a bit too much, it shows that they’re trying to do whatever it takes to win and get talent around their All-Star point guard in Kyrie Irving. Irving is in no position to leave anytime soon with still another option year on his deal and a likely extension on the horizon, but they’re being proactive in showing the NBA that they’re playing for keeps with him.

The Bulls have shown that they’re looking to re-tool their roster and bring in new, young talent–probably to the dismay of many key components to this Chicago Bulls team. But the Bulls really had little choice with their franchise player out for the remainder of the season and a roster that, quite frankly, isn’t very good. The Bulls are essentially buying themselves an insurance policy with this deal in case Derrick Rose isn’t the same player that he once was upon his return and they need to find another franchise player to build around.

They’ll have a plethora of picks to move around for years to come. They don’t necessarily have to draft with them, but they can also mortgage those picks into players that will contribute to a solid Bulls team. This move benefits them going forward more than anything else.

This is, no doubt, the start of a crazy push to the NBA’s trade deadline. The deals will start to manifest themselves just as quickly as they disappear. Keep your heads up, eyes open and ears peeled. With the shape that the Eastern Conference is in, we’re in for a wild ride.

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