Should they consider pursuing Gay and seek to swap him for Luol Deng?
Some may argue that there's some sense to this for Chicago because Gay provides more versatility on offense. He can create his own shot better than Deng, and the Bulls are in desperate need of more shot creators.
Therefore, does it make sense for the Bulls to bid farewell to Deng's surplus of quality defense to inherit a more proven offensive piece?
Such a deal could look enticing to Bulls fans at first glance, but the reality is that this would be a downright foolish deal for the Bulls to even tinker with. There are numerous reasons to support this.
First of all, look at the numbers:
Rudy Gay: 17.8 points per game (41.4 percent from the field), 5.7 rebounds per game, 2.5 assists per game, 1.4 steals per game
Luol Deng: 17.9 points per game (44.5 percent from the field), 6.6 rebounds per game, 2.9 assists per game, 1.1 steals per game
While numbers don't tell the whole story, there would at least need to be ample evidence here for the Bulls to ponder such a deal. And there isn't evidence. Gay's numbers are actually slightly weaker than Deng's.
If the Bulls are going to consider a blockbuster deal such as this, which would alter team chemistry, it must be 100 percent convincing from a statistical standpoint. That's not the case here.
Secondly, the chemistry issues this would present must be scrutinized. Deng meshes perfectly with coach Tom Thibodeau's style of play. He never takes a possession off and he's a core emotional leader for this franchise.
It's naive to assume that Gay can immediately jump in and mesh even better than Deng. Honestly, it's naive to assume he would mesh just as well as Deng. This is nothing against Gay, but why would the Bulls want to completely alter their chemistry for a player who's by no means at a higher level than Deng?
The truth is that Thibodeau's style of play requires a unique caliber of player. He demands much of everyone on the roster. Gritty workhorses like Deng, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson are wondrous fits for this intensity. But not everyone can readily adjust to this. Even if Gay can adjust, it would take some time and disrupt the chemistry the Bulls have already established.
Thirdly, luring Gay is not the way for Chicago to fortify their offense. He does possess playmaking ability, but the Bulls' best bet is to be patient and wait for a playmaker to arrive in the future, when it doesn't cost them a key piece to their squad in Deng.
Plus, is Gay really that much better offensively than Deng? Yes, he has more in his repertoire, but his numbers are certainly not staggering.
Lastly, Bulls fans must recognize the importance of Deng. What he brings to the table is invaluable. His contributions come in so many different layers.
He's the model of consistency offensively.
He's a stalwart on the defensive end.
His effort and attitude are unwavering.
He relishes the little things.
He's simply a coach's dream and exactly the type of player you want in your starting five. He may not be flashy, but he's undoubtedly productive. This easily gets overlooked when fans analyze Deng. It's easy to gather some of his limitations, but the truth is that there aren't many who display quality performances on a steady basis like Deng.
Because of this, the Bulls should not even dangle Deng's name on the trade block. If they do, they should only be content to entertain offers that feature them landing a proven superstar in return (i.e., Kevin Love). But such an opportunity is unlikely to present itself anytime soon.
Therefore, the Bulls shouldn't mess with offers such as a straight swap for Gay. Such a maneuver would honestly be more of a step backward than it would forward.
Bulls fans should truthfully be stoked about the currently assembled team. They have formidable core players in Deng, Noah, Gibson and the red-hot Carlos Boozer. They also have an array of stellar supporting weapons in Richard Hamilton, Marco Belinelli, Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler.
The only thing this team is in dire need of is the return of their superstar. Once this happens, the sky's the limit for this ball club.
This all the more confirms why trading Deng for Gay would be an illogical idea. The Bulls are already a top-notch team that is capable of contending for a title. There's no need to fiddle with their roster unless a can't-miss deal arises, and a swap of Deng for Gay isn't even close to being in the can't-miss category.
*Stats used in this slideshow were as of January 15, 2013.