While Chicago wanted to keep Deng, he had previously turned down a three-year, $30 million extension to stay with the Bulls. Afraid of losing him for nothing this summer, Chicago opted to deal Deng instead.
Here's a further breakdown of the trade, and how each team grades out following the deal:
For the Bulls:
As previously mentioned, Chicago had come to the realization that it was going to lose Deng for nothing. Deng is 28 and in prime position to cash in on a big deal, likely similar to the four-year, $48 million contract Andre Iguodala got from the Golden State Warriors last summer.
The Bulls are already over the projected salary cap for next season, with high-priced players like Derrick Rose ($18.8 million), Carlos Boozer ($16.8 mil) and Joakim Noah ($12.2 mil). Re-signing Deng would have not only put them in a tougher salary cap position, but also increased their luxury tax amount.
By trading Deng and waiving Andrew Bynum, the Bulls will save themselves $15 million in salary and taxes this season.
Besides money, Chicago gets to collect on some draft picks as well.
The Bulls receive a first-round pick (via the Sacramento Kings) from the Cavs. The pick is top-12 protected this season, top-10 from 2015-2017, and becomes a second-rounder if not cashed in by then. They also get 2015 and 2016 second-round picks from Cleveland, via the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Bulls could have waited until the trade deadline and probably gotten more for Deng, but the opportunity to trade for and waive Bynum was too irresistible to pass up.
Trade Grade: B
For the Cavaliers:
Bynum wasn't going to play again for the Cavs, so getting anything for him was going to be a plus.
As it turns out, the Cavs did even better than Gasol by trading for Deng.
Cleveland had started either Earl Clark or Alonzo Gee every game at small forward, its weakest position on the roster. Deng is averaging 19.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game this year. Clark and Gee were averaging 9.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.0 assist combined.
Deng represents everything the Cavs needed in a player. He's a veteran with playoff experience who can score, rebound, pass and defend. With small forwards like Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Paul George in the Eastern Conference, the Cavs needed a player like Deng who can match up with these talented scorers.
Losing Bynum doesn't hurt a bit, as his use of a trade chip was playing with house money. In terms of draft picks, Cleveland had plenty to spare. The Cavs already own three first-round picks next season, and have three second-round picks this year. The Kings pick likely can't be cashed in on this year, and the Trail Blazers' success means their second-round picks will fall in the later part of the round.
The only problem with Deng is his upcoming free agency. Cleveland can offer him more years and money, but the Cavs will have to first convince Deng that they can build a championship team around him.
With this deal, the Cavs are taking a risk that Deng could leave them after only half a season.
Overall, this was a risk worth taking in a historically weak Eastern Conference. With Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Anderson Varejao and now Deng, it would be a travesty if the Cavs couldn't make the playoffs.
This was a great deal for Cleveland that should push it into the postseason. The Cavs get an All-Star small forward in his prime for a few future draft picks, none of which will fall in the top 10. The lack of an extension right now is the only thing preventing it from becoming an A+.
Trade Grade: A
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Greg Swartz is a Northeast Ohio native who covers the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA on the Yahoo Contributor Network and Bleacher Report. You can find a collection of his articles here and join him on Twitter for more NBA news.
- Sports & Recreation
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Andrew Bynum
- Luol Deng
- Chicago Bulls