In the rumored deal, the Bulls would save approximately $20 million in salary and tax penalties if they were to trade Deng for Bynum and then waive the big man before Jan. 7, when he would be guaranteed the second half of his $12.25 million salary, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
While the deal makes sense from a financial perspective, Johnson also wrote, “There is no interest in trading Deng as a salary dump.”
It should come as no surprise that Chicago doesn’t intend to move Deng merely to shed salary, because Bulls general manager Gar Forman reportedly still hopes to work out a contract extension with the 28-year-old.
Forman said the following on The Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN Chicago 1000, per Nick Friedell of ESPN:
We value Luol a lot. And Luol is a big piece of the success we've had the last several years though we haven't gotten to our ultimate goal. We think Luol is going to continue to be a big piece, a big part of what we're doing. I know a lot was said about that we couldn't come to an extension last summer, but if you guys really study the NBA, especially since this new CBA—going into the CBA and since the new CBA has been in effect, it's very, very rare that extensions get done. So, the fact that one didn't get done was not an indicator of where we're at with Luol at all.
Deng is a huge part of the Bulls' defensive-oriented identity under head coach Tom Thibodeau. Nevertheless, numerous suitors will be lining up for his services when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2014.
According to Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets have all expressed interest in signing Deng.
His future with the Bulls is certainly up in the air, but it appears more and more unlikely that he’ll be traded before the deadline.