Coming off his first All-Star season, it's a bit hard to imagine the Chicago Bulls giving up on Luol Deng quite so soon. The 27-year-old isn't exactly past his prime, and this is still a team that's prepared to contend when healthy.
Nevertheless, it appears Chicago has at least toyed with the idea of moving the small forward, at least according to the Daily Herald's Mike McGraw.
Is now the time to do something drastic like trading or even using the amnesty clause on a pricey piece like Deng?
No, at least not yet.
And under no circumstances should he amnestied. That much is obvious.
The rumors surrounding Deng have had little basis in reality. Sure, Chicago might consider making a move if it made sense, but as the Chicago Sun-Times' Neil Hayes correctly notes, that's just the nature of a team's due diligence:
The Bulls have had discussions with teams about trading Luol Deng for a chance to move into the lottery to pick up North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes in Thursday night’s draft.
The Bulls have also kicked around the idea of trading every other player on their roster because exploring options is what franchises do during the offseason.
As exciting as it may be to see a somewhat prominent name on the move, let's keep this one in perspective.
At the moment, we don't know exactly how much of next season Derrick Rose will miss. Nor can we be entirely sure how seamlessly he'll get back into the swing of things.
ESPNChicago's Nick Friedell reports that Rose is recovering more quickly than expected, but that could mean a lot of things when the original prediction suggested it would take him 8-12 months from the time of his knee surgery in May.
If Rose comes back in time for the postseason and the Bulls are otherwise playing like contenders, this team should be every bit as good as it was this season.
That's not a formula with which anyone should mess.
On the other hand, Chicago might find itself struggling without its floor leader—especially given the knowledge that he'll miss so much time.
Perhaps there will be setbacks during his recovery process, preventing any opportunity for a meaningful return in time to be effective for the postseason.
If worst comes to worst, there might be a case for dealing Deng prior to the trade deadline. If this isn't Chicago's year, there's a logic to reshuffling the roster and beginning to look forward.
After all, Rose is still just 23 years old.
His best opportunities to win it all may be three or four years down the road, and he may need a different supporting cast in order to do so. Affording him the time to grow with a younger rotation isn't that wild of an idea.
Until it's clear that this season is a lost cause, though, making big moves is premature.
There's much to be said for this club's chemistry and the institutional knowledge it's built over time. Those things don't happen overnight, and nor should any impulsive adjustments that would jeopardize them.