Ever since LeBron James left the city of Cleveland, Cavaliers fans have been bitterly disappointed. The team tried to resurrect its franchise by drafting point guard Kyrie Irving but has failed to add the necessary pieces to create a playoff-caliber team. The Cavaliers hope to change that situation with their most recent acquisition, Luol Deng.
Following failed negotiations from the Bulls to extend Deng’s contract, the Bulls decided to trade the small forward to the Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum and 3 draft picks (1 protected from the Sacramento Kings, and 2 acquired by the Cavaliers from the Portland Trail Blazers).
In picking up Deng, Cavaliers’s GM Chris Grant has clearly indicated what his intentions for his team are – win now, not later. Deng has played for the Bulls for 9.5 seasons (his entire career), alongside the core of Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah. Despite playing next to more highly touted players throughout those years, Deng has been voted to 2 NBA All-Star teams (2012 and 2013) and has also been named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2012).
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 7, 2014
That being said, Deng is in his 10th NBA season. His already lengthy tenure in the NBA, along with the fact that Deng has played more minutes than anyone else in the league the past 2 seasons (38.7 minutes per game over the past 5 seasons), means that Deng is not the long-term solution to Cleveland’s woes. However, Deng does offer a great short-term solution to Cleveland’s pathetic production from the small forward position, with Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee combining for 9.8 ppg at that position thus far this year.
While the Cavaliers made the trade to secure immediate, short-term success, the Bulls pulled the trigger as a matter of simple economics. As has been previously stated, Deng turned down a 3 year, $30 million contract extension with the Chicago Bulls, indicating that his wishes were to fully explore his free-agency at the end of this season.
In order to get something instead of simply losing everything, Chicago thought it would make most sense to trade Deng. By moving Deng and waiving the recently acquired Bynum, Chicago cleared enough salary cap to get below the luxury-tax limit of $71 million. With Chicago unlikely to make the playoffs this year due to the injury of Derrick Rose, it made the most sense for them to clear salary room to acquire players which will help the Bulls move forward – something they have been struggling to do with their core players of Rose, Boozer, Noah, and Deng.
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