NBA Trade Speculation: 5 Luol Deng Trades That Make Sense for Both Teams
With the Warriors and Raptors in hot pursuit and the Bulls coveting North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes, it looked like the Bulls would pull the trigger if they could secure a lottery selection, per the Chicago Tribune.
But as the draft approached, Barnes' stock supposedly rose and the Bulls got cold feet.
Hindsight being 20-20, I bet they are regretting their decision after watching Barnes fall to No. 7 and the Warriors happily scooping him up.
And now the post-draft period has been one of radio silence, as most experts now expect Deng to stay with Chicago for at least another season.
But the fact of the matter remains: The Bulls are probably better off trading Deng if they can get equivalent value or young talent to develop around injured star Derrick Rose.
With that in mind, here are five trades that would work for both the Bulls and their trade counterparts.
(Note: We'll be using ESPN's Trade Machine for all proposed deals.)
Deng to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan and More
Trade Scenario No. 1 (if Steve Nash signs with the Raptors): Deng for DeRozan and Jose Calderon
Trade Scenario No. 2 (if Nash signs elsewhere): Deng for DeRozan and a future protected first-round pick
The ideal scenario for both teams is the former. For Chicago, Calderon's contract expires after next season, and he would be able to keep the team in the Eastern Conference's elite while Derrick Rose recovers from his torn ACL.
And DeRozan is a 22-year-old ball of potential who possesses the type of athleticism the Bulls will sorely lack without Rose. He certainly has flaws (broken jumper, for instance), but DeRozan represents a massive upgrade over Richard Hamilton and is still young enough that he may blossom.
For Toronto, Deng would fill a huge need and provide hypothetical Nash with another apt presence on the wing. And even if Nash goes elsewhere, Deng would provide a strong outside defense on a team sorely in need of any type of defense.
Deng to the Sacramento Kings for Tyreke Evans and a Draft Choice
Trade Scenario: Deng for Evans and a future lottery-protected first-round pick.
I can basically substitute everything I said about DeRozan and apply it to Evans. He's an uber-athletic shooting guard who has spent the past couple seasons in potential purgatory, as the Kings tinkered with his role in each of his three seasons.
Evans would actually be the more attractive (and possibly more attainable) option for the Bulls, as his ball-handling ability would save the team from relying on No. 29 pick Marquis Teague too heavily.
I've already stood on my soapbox imploring the Kings to trade Evans, so I'll spare you the diatribe. On the other hand, Deng is the type of solution for Sacramento's black-hole problem. He plays well off the ball and could act as a leader on a team with maturity issues.
Deng to the Atlanta Hawks for Josh Smith
Trade Scenario: Deng and a first-round pick for Josh Smith.
But nothing about that theory makes sense based on what we currently know. Smith has steadfastly demanded a trade since before this past season's trade deadline, and he doesn't look to be backing off, according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Howard might be from Atlanta, but his hometown franchise was never on his radar and still isn't, according to ESPN's Ric Bucher. And the only link Chris Paul has to the Hawks' organization is being the player the team chose Marvin Williams over.
If Smith still wants out of Atlanta and the Lakers move or decide to retain Pau Gasol, Deng and a first-rounder might be the best the Hawks can do for their enigmatic forward.
For Chicago, this is a no-brainer. It allows the team to amnesty Carlos Boozer's contract (which is bad, but not as horrible as everyone says) and bring in a 26-year-old two-way force to pair with Rose when he returns.
Deng to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin
Trade Scenario: Deng for Kevin Martin straight up.
This is exactly the type of trade that makes just about everyone shrug, nod their head and move on. Martin and Deng are basically 7.5/10 NBA players, and the swap benefits the needs of each side.
Martin would step in instantly and take on some of Rose's scoring burden, and he wouldn't need the ball to be effective when the point guard returns. Deng's presence opens up a starting spot for first-round draftee Jeremy Lamb, while giving the Rockets a tertiary star to pair with whomever else they bring in this offseason in trades.
Everyone wins, but no one cares.
Deng and Carlos Boozer to the Los Angeles Lakers for Pau Gasol and Cap Filler
Trade Scenario: Deng and Boozer for Gasol and Metta World Peace.
I used World Peace as "cap filler" in this scenario because the Lakers desperately want out from under his contract, and his presence could help offset some of Deng's lost defensive presence for Chicago. This deal could also work with either Josh McRoberts or Steve Blake in Metta's place.
For the Lakers, getting Deng and Boozer is more than you ever could have dreamed in a Gasol trade. Despite his being mentioned among the amnesty talk elite, Boozer is still a 15-9 guy every night and won't kill you on the defensive end.
And with the Lakers in cap hell until further notice, a Kobe-Deng-Boozer-Bynum foursome is about the best they could do. It's arguable that the Lakers would have the best top four in basketball in that scenario.
For the Bulls, they're setting up a possibility of having two of the league's top 15 players. And even if Gasol turns out to be a poor fit, the team gets cap flexibility in 2014 and out from under a roster with a glass ceiling.