The Chicago Bulls have recently traded Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it doesn’t mean there’s no chance he’ll play for them next season again.
The whole theory is based on one thing – a tweet from Jason Lloyd that came after the Cavs lost to the Bulls 98-87, the first meeting between the teams since the trade that sent Deng from the only team he’s been playing for after entering the NBA 10 years ago.
Deng this a.m. on possibility of returning to CHI next season: “Maybe they’ll offer me 3yrs, $30 million. That might be an option to take.”
— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) January 22, 2014
So lets run this one back: The Chicago Bulls and Luol Deng didn’t come to an agreement on his contract extension, which triggered the Bulls sending Deng to Cleveland while Chicago got back Andew Bynum (and immediately cut him) and some draft picks in the future. Unlike previous deals we’ve seen in the past, when a player gets traded away, released and then re-signed by his “mother” team, this one might be a player for the long game.
The Chicago Bulls have always indicated that they want Deng to stay with the team; trading him to the Cavs made sense financially for them, at least this season. It was a chance for the Cavs to avoid paying more money to Luol Deng, and improve their team while trying to make the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James left the team. They’ve been 4-4 since Deng’s arrival (improving to 15-27), so one might say they’re somewhat in the right direction.
But will the Bulls re-sign Deng? The overall assessment was that they will be willing to give him a $10 million per year deal, but that didn’t happen in the summer or during the season, so why now? Things change. Chicago are going to get Derrick Rose back at some point, only this time there won’t be such an overflow of optimism like before this season began. The Bulls might amnesty Carlos Boozer (although he’ll have only one year left on his deal) which will mean that signing Deng on an 8-figure deal won’t be such a burden on the salary cap.
But what about challenging for the NBA title? Chicago, at full healthy, are good enough to be one of the best teams in the East, maybe even the best. However, the last few years indicate that they need some substantial addition to the roster to be sure about their dominance and perceived supremacy. Bringing Deng back isn’t that plus they needed, and it probably depends on what the market has to offer, not to mention the NBA draft.