It’s early Monday afternoon the week of the draft, and we have our first rumored trade talks to report.
And this rumor’s a good one, involving a two-time All-Star and a top-three pick.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that the Chicago Bulls, in their latest attempt to gauge the trade value of All-Star swingman Luol Deng, have had exploratory discussions with Washington about a deal that would land Deng with the Wizards and bring the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft to the Bulls.
Emeka Okafor would need to be included from the Wizards to make this deal work, and he’d have to pick up his player option for more than $14 million for next season, which he’s likely to do whether or not a trade is made.
Deng is in the final year of a contract that will pay him over $14 million next season, so despite his ironman-like value to the Bulls the last couple of seasons playing heavy minutes and contributing on both ends of the floor, Chicago may prefer to acquire a younger (and far less expensive) asset instead of potentially getting nothing in return for Deng if he leaves as a free agent.
This would be about the future for the Bulls, although it’s tough to see their fan base getting on board with this move from a short-term perspective. Chicago bothered the eventual champion Heat in the second round of the playoffs, and did so without Derrick Rose, and with several of their players — including Deng — unable to play due to injury.
An argument could be made that with a healthy Rose back in the fold at full strength, the Bulls would immediately move to the top of the list of Eastern Conference teams poised to legitimately challenge Miami. But losing Deng would be a big blow to those chances, even if Chicago is setting itself up to be better off two or more years in the future.
Deng averaged 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and three assists in 38.7 minutes per game for the Bulls last season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, who currently hold the number one overall pick in this year’s draft, reportedly have interest in Deng, as well.