No one is breaking up the package just yet, but another injury to Derrick Rose has the Chicago Bulls thinking out loud about the whoe Luol Deng – Jimmy Butler dynamic, and whether or not to start looking for teams to send Deng via trade to, and somehow get themselves a point guard.
This has been an issue for quite some time, which has strained the relationship between Tom Thibodeau and the front office. He wants to keep Deng, who is making $14 million on the final season of his contract, and is looking to make around $10 million per yer on the next deal he signs. There are teams in the NBA willing to pay him that kind of money, as his numbers of 16.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game hide the terrible shooting we’ve been seeing from him, dropping to 41.3% from the field.
Butler is playing out of position as a shooting guard, but did it quite well before the toe injury hit Chicago right when Rose hurt his meniscus as well. Butler will be out for about two more weeks more or less, making the Bulls seem quite desperate, especially after losing by 39 points to the Los Angeles Clippers, falling to 6-6 in a disappointing start to the season.
They were willing to be patient with Rose, who physically looked just as good as ever, but his timing and shooting didn’t really seem on par with what everyone’s come to expect of the 2011 MVP. The Bulls weren’t worried as long as he was healthy and actually playing better heading into the fourth week of the season, but missing him for two months, more or less, might force them to reshuffle the cards.
Jimmy Butler is a small forward – cheaper, and possibly better than Luol Deng if last season and the playoffs are anything to go by. Deng, possibly about to sign the final big contract of his career, has been showing signs of slowing down, both as a defender but mostly on offense. It seems that in some games he’s determined to show he’s a great scorer, something he never was. The Bulls, seeing that he’s less and less of a game changer, might opt to pull the trade finger sooner than later considering this season isn’t exactly going according to plan.