Report: Luol Deng to the Wizards for the No. 3 pick discussed

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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.

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.