Luol Deng‘s agent, Herb Rudoy, believes the Bulls purposely low-balled his client with their take-it-or-leave-it extension offer. Rudoy tells Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times that the Bulls likely knew Deng would turn down the offer, which gave the team a motive to trade him.
“I think the purpose of it was for us to say no,” Rudoy said of the offer. “They probably had some deal in the process already. That was the purpose — to make an offer that we absolutely would turn down without question, and then get into their trade process. Again, that’s fine.”
Deng told the Chicago Tribune yesterday that he was upset about a report suggesting he had been seeking $15MM annually from the Bulls, since his asking price wasn’t that high. Rudoy backed up those comments, admitting that he likely would’ve been seeking “a lot of money” for the free-agent-to-be, but telling Cowley that he never got the opportunity to get into specific figures.
“We never asked for anything,” Rudoy said. “Let me make that clear. We talked with them just before the start of the season, and we were told they weren’t interested in doing an extension, which was fine with us. Then I got a call this past weekend from [Bulls GM] Gar [Forman] giving me a three-year offer, and one he said was non-negotiable. It was their final offer, take it or leave it, and Lu decided to not accept it. I was never given an opportunity to propose a dollar figure. Never once. Never had that discussion.”
GM Chris Grant and the Cavaliers have already expressed a desire to keep Deng in Cleveland on a new contract, and while Deng said he hopes there’s a long-term future for him with the Cavs, he declined to comment on the prospect of extension talks. According to Rudoy, it’s still a little too early in the process to start negotiating an extension with Deng’s new club.
“Today was the first day of the rest of his life, so that wasn’t discussed,” Rudoy said. “We met the owners, they’re terrific guys. They’re like Jerry Reinsdorf, who was very good to [Deng] all his years in Chicago. I met with them just to say hello, and at some point there will be a discussion about [an extension]. But there have been no discussions at all.”
Deng, who is earning about $14.28MM this season, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer if he doesn’t sign an extension by then. The Cavs are allowed to extend his contract by three more years if the two sides reach an agreement before July, whereas the team could sign him to a five-year deal in free agency. Rival suitors could offer Deng up to four years.