The Cavaliers and Bulls have reached an agreement on a trade that will send Luol Deng to Cleveland in exchange for Andrew Bynum and draft picks, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (via Twitter). ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst confirms that the Cavs have acquired Deng (Twitter link), while team owner Dan Gilbert also tweeted confirmation of the deal, welcoming Deng to Cleveland.
According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitter link), the Bulls will receive a first-round pick and a pair of second-rounders from the Cavs in the swap, in addition to Bynum. The first-rounder will be the Kings’ 2014 pick, which is top-12 protected, while the second-rounders will be Portland’s 2015 and 2016 picks, according to an official release from the Cavs. The Bulls will also have the rights to swap first-rounders with the Cavs in 2015, but only if Cleveland’s pick doesn’t fall in the lottery, tweets Lloyd.
Although the Cavs will surrender a handful of draft picks in the deal, the move fills a giant need for the team, with Deng assuming a starting small forward role that has changed hands several times since LeBron James left for Miami in 2010. The Cavs also find a taker for Bynum, who had fallen out of favor in Cleveland, and was being shopped to the Lakers and Jazz, among other teams. So for now, Pau Gasol and Richard Jefferson will remain in L.A. and Utah, respectively, though both veterans are on expiring deals and could be involved in more trade rumors before February 20th’s deadline.
As for the Bulls, several recent reports had indicated that the team was reluctant to move Deng, still believing that he could be re-signed next summer. However, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link), the 28-year-old turned down a three-year, $30MM extension offer from Chicago last week, which was a prelude to this trade. The deal gives the Bulls the opportunity to dip below the tax this season and to add future assets, as well as greatly increasing the odds that the club will land a prime spot in the 2014 draft lottery.
Assuming the Bulls officially waive Bynum on Tuesday, as ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell confirms they will (Twitter link), the team will shed $8.275MM in payroll by paying Bynum’s $6MM guarantee rather than Deng’s $14.275MM salary. According to ShamSports’ salary figures for Chicago, that would reduce team payroll to about $71.01MM, giving the club a little breathing room below the $71.748MM luxury tax line.
The long-term ramifications of the deal will be worth keeping an eye on over the next several months. While the Cavs’ dream scenario for the summer of 2014 is believed to revolve around bringing LeBron back to Cleveland, the team will now have a very viable alternative in Deng, with his Bird rights in hand heading into free agency.
For the Bulls, coach Tom Thibodeau may not be entirely on board with the trade, since he was considered Deng’s biggest fan. A December report also indicated that Derrick Rose wasn’t eager to go through a rebuilding process in Chicago, so it’ll be interesting to see how aggressively the team retools during the offseason, perhaps amnestying Carlos Boozer and bringing Nikola Mirotic stateside.
Meanwhile, Chicago now technically holds the rights to three 2014 first-rounders: Their own pick, the Bobcats’ pick, and the Kings’ pick. However, the latter two are heavily protected. Charlotte’s first-round pick is top-10 protected in 2014, top-eight protected in 2015, and unprotected in 2016. Sacramento’s first-rounder is top-10 protected in 2015, 2016, and 2017, after being top-12 protected this season. If the pick doesn’t change hands by 2017, Chicago would receive the Kings’ 2017 second-rounder instead.
If and when the Bulls waive Bynum, he’ll likely go unclaimed on waivers, meaning he’ll be eligible to sign with any team besides the Cavs as soon as this week. The Clippers and Heat are believed to be among his preferred destinations.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.