The Bulls are just 9-16 through their first 25 games, and many have called for the team to blow up its core.
Per ESPN's Brian Windhorst:
Teams have been inquiring about Deng's availability recently as the Bulls have sunk in the standings following a knee injury that ended Derrick Rose's season. This week, Deng told the Chicago Sun-Times he was preparing for the possibility he may be traded.
But sources said that is not in the team's plans. Despite failing to come to terms on a contract extension before the season, the Bulls remain optimistic they will be able to re-sign Deng next summer.
While the Bulls might not want to trade Deng right now, the team might not have a choice in the near future if Chicago continues to perform at such an underwhelming level.
A critical piece to Tom Thibodeau's team, Deng is likely to be an undervalued free agent in the offseason.
In a recent interview with Hoopsworld's Moke Hamilton, Deng acknowledged that free agency is on his mind:
To be honest with you I’ve done my best – I’ve been in a contract situation before when I was young and it affected me. This year, during the summer, I told myself that no matter what, I’m just going to be in the gym working.
There are a number of teams that will line up for Deng's services in free agency, and the Bulls could expedite their rebuild around Rose by trading Deng before their season ends.
However, the Bulls have remained steadfast in their approach that Deng is not someone who they'll consider trading, and it's a stance that may remain for the duration of the 2013-14 season.
Deng's value to Chicago is clear, and if he were to depart through a trade or in free agency, it would create a very large hole that the Bulls would be hard-pressed to replace.
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