The Chicago Bulls would love to trade Luol Deng and his expensive expiring contract, but there are no takers. And unless he’s willing to give them a massive discount on his next deal, there’s no reason for the Bulls to give him a contract extension.
Deng is going to get paid $14.275 million next season, and on a team with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer all with eight-figure annual salaries, finding the chance to trim the fat is something that can’t be missed. Deng can no longer be amnestied, but the Bulls were never thinking that.
Their general manager (Gar Forman) has said more than once he isn’t planning to move Deng via trade, but still the talks of a move to Portland and Washington were on the table. It doesn’t really matter because anything teams presidents and general managers say isn’t set in stone. If the opportunity to move him arises, the Bulls should take it.
However, for now, the Bulls will try and make another run for the Eastern Conference crown with the core that includes a healthy (hopefully) and resurgent Derrick Rose, along with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng. If Rose is back to his 2010-2011 ability, the Bulls are an immediate threat to the Miami Heat. Having guys like Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson on the bench make them dangerous, although the team is far from complete at the moment, especially when it comes to better frontcourt cover.
No one is going to give Deng the kind of money he’s been making for the last five seasons, which is north of $10 million. He’ll be looking for that kind of deal once he becomes a free agent, but with durability issues and a very clear ceiling as to his offensive production (16.5 points per game last season), Deng is going to find a lot of interest as a free agent but not for the sums he’s been used to getting.
With Jimmy Butler looking like an exact replacement on a much cheaper deal without the wear & tear on Deng’s body, the Bulls shouldn’t think too much about this one. Deng can be very useful for them in a run for the title, and if they’re looking like one of the top 2 teams in the East around the trade deadline, with Deng looking healthy and playing well, they should trade him. But keeping him beyond the summer of 2014? That would be a bad decision.