Assessing the Impact of the Luol Deng Trade

From Flickr via Shinya

From Flickr via Shinya

For those of you asleep at the time, a bomb was dropped on the Chicago Bulls fan base as news broke that the Chicago Bulls traded Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum and three future draft picks. As of writing this no additional moves have been made but it is heavily expected that Chicago will release Andrew Bynum and his non-guaranteed contract to avoid paying him the $6 million he will be owed at the end of the day.

When a team trades away a well regarded player and the franchise’s all-time fourth leading scorer (behind Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Bob Love), the impact of the move is undoubtedly huge. The following are a few ways in which the trade affects the Chicago Bulls:


By trading away Deng for Bynum (and subsequently releasing Bynum), the Bulls will have successfully dumped Luol Deng’s contract to avoid the repeater tax. While many groan at the notion that the Bulls making a move to avoid the tax (remember Kyle Korver?) the move makes sense for the team’s future. By avoiding the repeater tax, the Bulls are now able to use the mid-level exception and keep themselves in a better situation in the future. Should the Bulls couple this move with the use of the amnesty clause on Carlos Boozer, the Bulls would have enough for a max contract player this offseason. It remains to be seen if they would try to sign a star player or use the financial flexibility to bring over European phenom Nikola Mirotic.


The Bulls acquired three draft picks in via this trade- a protected first-rounder from the Sacramento Kings, and two second round draft picks from the Portland Trailblazers. Provided the Kings and Charlotte Bobcats end up with a pick outside of the top-10, the Bulls could have three draft picks in this year’s NBA draft to restock their roster with youth and depth. With the recent drafting success the team has had, this could be a blessing. Pending how the Bulls move the rest of the year, the team could end up with three lottery picks. Speaking of performance…

Performance the rest of the season:

The Bulls could be entering tank mode. As it currently stands Chicago is in the playoff picture, but the absence of Luol Deng will definitely hit the team’s performance in a big way. It remains to be seen how Chicago will perform the rest of the season, but it is entirely feasible that the Bulls could end up outside of the playoff picture. Some interesting facts via our own Brian Schroeder:




Friction between the Chicago Bulls front office and head coach Tom Thibodeau has been well documented since the Bulls dismissed assistant coach Ron Adams. Thibodeau has been a very vocal supporter of Deng and reportedly was very against the idea of trading him away. The move will undoubtedly irk Thibodeau more and it remains to be seen how friction between the coach and management is handled moving forward. Several national media writers, and a few of our humble selves here at BbtH, have speculated that Thibodeau could be gone this offseason via a trade for draft picks. Things on that front will be interesting to watch.

Long Term Future:

The trade doesn’t hurt Chicago’s long term future and likely ends up helping it. The Bulls already have an established roster consisting of Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell, and Derrick Rose. In addition to this core, the Bulls are in a position to add Nikola Mirotic and at least one, and as many as three, draft picks this offseason. Pending future financial moves, the Bulls could also be in a position to sign a max contract player via free agency. Pending who the draft pick(s) is/are, the Bulls could find themselves competing for a title within a few years. Should the Bulls opt to make a run at a max contract player this offseason, then the Bulls could end up in the same position minus Nikola Mirotic.

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2 Responses to Assessing the Impact of the Luol Deng Trade

  1. Anonymous January 7, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    The trade makes no sense except for the fact that Bulls management is tanking the season. Wonder what Coach Thibs thinks about this one, “losing the glue” to the team. And they didn’t even get high enough draft picks.

    mataio January 7, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    I like the trade but your 2nd to last sentence that reads “find themselves competing for a title with a few years”….reads ominously for me. Anyone else fear the bulls will be forever competing but never truly contending?

    These guys in the front office have this one last opportunity right now to turn this potential into a true contender. We cannot waste d.rose window with plastic potential and N overload of blue collar workers. In that famous series vs celtics we were going to be competing for a title in a few years and yet here we are now. Time to get it right guys!!

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