The Cleveland Cavaliers have traded disgruntled center Andrew Bynum and draft picks to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for forward Luol Deng, putting an abrupt end to the big man's disappointing stint with the franchise.
The Bulls Twitter feed sent out the news:
Owner Dan Gilbert was quick to welcome the newest member of the Cavs:
Welcome @LuolDeng9 to the Cleveland Cavaliers!— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) January 7, 2014
Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal provided further details on the trade:
#Cavs will send Chicago a pair of 2nd round picks and a first-round pick previously acquired from Sacramento Kings— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) January 7, 2014
Cavs GM Chris Grant released a statement on the trade (via NBA.com):
We are very excited for Luol to join the Cavaliers organization. We have worked to acquire and maintain flexibility in order to capitalize on opportunities such as this. Luol reflects all that we are striving for in building our team. He’s a tremendous defensive player that can impact the game on both ends of the court with a team first mentality and is a high character leader.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune provides Deng's thoughts on the trade:
Luol Deng tells the Tribune: "I'm not upset with the organization but we never asked for $15 million."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 8, 2014
Luol Deng tells tTribune: "I'm not bitter with anybody. If I was a GM, would I make that move? Maybe. But I always wanted to be in Chicago."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 8, 2014
More from Deng: "I just want people to know we never asked for $15 million. Who knows what I would've taken last summer? That bothers me."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 8, 2014
A number of rumors circulated about potential trade partners for both players.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tweeted that the Bulls attempted to keep Deng by offering him a contract extension last week:
Luol Deng rejected a 3 year, $30 million extension with Bulls last week, league source tells Yahoo. Turned out to be prelude to trade.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) January 7, 2014
ESPN's Marc Stein reported on Jan. 3 that in addition to the consideration of trading Bynum for Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol, the Cavs were considering a swap for Utah Jazz small forward Richard Jefferson:
Sources tell ESPN that Cavs remain in Bynum-for-Pau talks with Lakers but also now engaged with Jazz on potential deal for R. Jefferson— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 4, 2014
It hasn't worked out for the Cavs since Bynum signed on as a free agent this July, to say the least. Bynum shot just 41.9 percent and averaged 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 20 minutes per game in 24 appearances for a Cavs team that is 11-23.
The good news for the Cavs' front office is that it didn't invest much guaranteed money in the 26-year-old.
Bynum's contract was worth up to $24.8 million over two years but was laced with incentives that he couldn't reach. As long as he was waived before Jan. 7, he was guaranteed just $6 million of what would have been a $12.2 million salary this season, per Wojnarowski.
Sam Amico of FoxSportsOhio.com cited multiple sources on Dec. 28 that Cleveland would seek to trade Bynum after he was suspended indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. However, one source told Amico that teams weren't interested in trading, opening the possibility for Bynum to be released.
What was a bold acquisition that had potential to revive both the Cavaliers and Bynum's collapsing career has turned out badly, but at least Cleveland got something in return: The 28-year-old Deng is averaging 19.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists while playing his usual stellar defense in Chicago.
Wojnarowski reported on Bynum's apparent mindset, which will certainly hurt his stock moving forward:
About Bynum suspension, league source tells Yahoo: "He doesn't want to play basketball anymore. He never liked it that much in first place."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 28, 2013
Cavs believe Bynum has been "disruptive" presence within team and lost hope partnership can be salvaged, league sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 28, 2013
Bynum may have a hard time being a significant contributor on any NBA roster if he doesn't have the desire to play. He can be one of the best centers in the NBA when healthy and motivated. Unfortunately, lack of consistency has prevented him from living up to his potential.
As for Deng, the soon-to-be free agent was clearly not in the Bulls' long-term plans, so trading him was a logical move even if it hurts the team in the short run.