For the trade between the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards sending Luol Deng for a number three draft pick to happen, Emeka Okafor needs to pick up his player option and go the other way. At the moment, this doesn’t seem like something likely to happen.
Okafor and Deng will both make over $14 million next season, but the Bulls aren’t the reason this trade probably won’t go down. Yes, the Wizards, based on a healthy John Wall and a very strong finish to the 2012-2013 season, think they can be a playoff caliber team next year, and might prefer a proven veteran, hopefully an All-Star like Deng, than a young player who is more or less a gamble coming in.
Yet Deng, who the Bulls decided over a month ago should be made available for a trade considering his 2014 salary ($14.3 million) and the emergence of Jimmy Butler, who offers pretty much the same attributes and strengths, only coming in a younger body for a lot less money, comes with a few cautionary warnings the Wizards think make the deal too bad on their side.
The whole reason for the trade being introduced and option is the Wizards looking only at one player in the draft at the moment -Georgetown’s small forward Otto Porter, but they’re afraid he might no longer be available by the time the third pick is up. That’s why the Deng option has been put on the table, ready to be used if one of the first two picks is used on Porter.
But taking a look at the numbers and the players again, it simply doesn’t make sense for the Wizards. Okafor might be slightly overpaid, but he’s the team’s best interior defender. Giving him up, not to mention a potential franchise building block for a player with only one-year left on his contract (a one year all-star rental as someone referred to it), is simply too much to ask.
Taking Deng and not re-signing him on a long term deal would be a huge loss for the Wizards, but when his wear & tear is taken into account – the injuries last season, and his playing time over the last few years (playing at least 38 minutes a night for four straight seasons), make him even less desirable. Yes, he should still be an All-Star caliber player on both ends of the floor, but for how long? As the Wizards see it, he won’t be worth a long-term extension for so much money, and isn’t worth giving up both Okafor and any draft pick that might fall into their lap at number 3.