According to Shams Charania of RealGM.com, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls have agreed to a trade that will send Luol Deng to the Cavaliers. In return, the Bulls receive Andrew Bynum, three draft picks, and the right to swap first-round picks with Cleveland in 2015. The draft picks are two second-round picks from Cleveland via Portland, the right to swap picks in 2015 if Cleveland doesn’t make the lottery, and, stay sharp here, a first-round pick from Cleveland, that was previously owned by Sacramento. The Kings protected this pick as such: Top 12 protected in 2014, top 10 protected in 2015, 2016, and 2017. If the Bulls don’t receive the pick by 2017, the pick goes from a first-round pick to a second-round pick
Let’s unpack this trade…
From Cleveland’s standpoint, it’s a good trade for now. The Andrew Bynum relationship had rotted to the point where Cleveland began to aggressively shop him, wanting to shed Bynum’s potential salary increase from $6 million to $12 million after January 7th. This move saves them more than 15 million dollars in the interim. The acquisition of Deng gives Cleveland a two-way wing player with experience. His veteran presence and defense will be welcomed in Cleveland, especially by head coach Mike Brown, who desperately lacks a quality on-ball defender on the perimeter. Along with defense, I’m sure adding Deng’s offense to their lackluster offense wouldn’t hurt either. Cleveland ranks 28th in offensive efficiency, and while he’s isn’t a superstar scorer, Deng fits in perfectly as the team’s second scorer behind Kyrie Irving.
For the Bulls, it’s nothing more than a step forward into tanking. Andrew Bynum will be waived, saving Chicago from his salary increase. The Bulls do acquire some draft picks, and that’s very valuable as a throw-in in future trades. While the Sacramento pick looks more and more like a second-rounder these days, teams like Detroit, Houston, and Milwaukee have shown in the past that hitting on good players late in the draft allow you to splurge on other areas on the roster. The coup is the potential swap of picks in 2015 with Cleveland. Depending on how Chicago is able to retool, having that in their back pocket as a way to move up in the draft is very valuable.
The winner: Both teams.
No, I’m serious. Both teams won the trade. The Cavaliers needed to make a splash with a trade, and did that, while not giving up too many assets. When LeBron James left, one of the bigger criticisms about why he did it was that people didn’t want to go to Cleveland. Well, acquiring a guy like Deng, incorporating him into the offense and having his Bird rights helps Cleveland’s chances of keeping him in free agency. He’ll help a poor offense, and if he can find his three-point stroke, he’ll be a valuable piece as they make a playoff push in the upcoming months.
As for Chicago, they won because they acquire some draft picks and saved money. It seems like the Bulls thing to do. Now, their first-round pick becomes more valuable as they look to fall to the bottom of the standings. This seems like step in the right direction, especially if the idea is retooling around a returning Derrick Rose. The Bulls still have the amnesty option, and Carlos Boozer seems like a fine candidate for that. After that, the Bulls would have to bring over Real Madrid forward Nikola Mirotic, which could cost them the mid-level exception, if not a bit more. The Chicago rebuild will involve Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic, draft picks, and potentially, another star player in 2015. Not a bad plan, but a plan that didn’t include Luol Deng.