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Right now, based on the comments I get, it seems the biggest controversy surrounding the Bulls fans is whether or not the team should trade Luol Deng. That’s a position that has strong arguments on both sides. The answer depends on the return.
Trading Deng for the sake of trading Deng would be foolish. The main argument for it is Jimmy Butler has developed to the point where he can step in for Deng. This makes sense until you consider that the Bulls have been trying for years to find the right shooting guard. Now they finally have him, so they’re going to trade their small forward, move the shooting guard to small forward and still have the need at shooting guard?
You don’t want to dig one hole to fill another, and you don’t want to fix what’s not broken.
You can make an argument that right now Deng doesn’t give you enough considering the money he’s making. Last year, he made $13 million and gave 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. That’s not great, but it’s not bad.
Deng, though, is also one of those players you simply can’t judge by the box score. What he provides in on-court leadership, defense and in overall “glueness” is all near the top of the NBA. There’s a reason why opposing coaches have made him an All-Star two years running.
He’s also in the final year of his contract. What if he is willing to come back for less? How much would it be worth to keep him? Is he worth $7 million? How about $5 million? Don’t ignore the possibility of his long-term value to the Bulls if he stays either.
The other thing to consider is the remarkable chemistry the current group has together.
When Deng has started with Carlos Boozer, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the Bulls have won 85 percent of their games. And that’s not even including the addition of Jimmy Butler in the starting lineup.
Once he started the Bulls gave up 4.4 fewer points (subscription required) per 100 possessions when Butler and Deng were on the court together.
And frankly, we haven’t even seen the trio of Rose, Butler and Deng either. On the defensive end, that’s a potentially devastating group. All three provide tremendous help and close out on shooters like Boris Diaw closes out on a box of donuts.
Having said all of that, there is speculation from Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com that Deng could be the main chip in a trade that could land Kevin Love.
In a case like that, depending on the price, you have to consider it. The important thing here is not whether you trade Deng or keep Deng, but it’s whether you maximize Deng.
If you can get more out of him, then do it, but don’t trade him just for the sake of trading him. And, in considering his value, consider all of it, not just the box-score value. Then make a decision.
Be smart..Deng it.