Cavaliers trade Andrew Bynum, draft picks to Bulls for Luol Deng
In addition to Bynum, the Bulls will receive the Kings' 2014 first-round pick (top-12 protected), the Trail Blazers' 2015 and 2016 second-round picks, and the right to swap 2015 first-round picks with the Cavaliers (if Cleveland's selection falls between 15-30).
"We are very excited for Luol to join the Cavaliers organization, " Cleveland general manager Chris Grant said in a statement. "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.”
he Bulls acquired Deng on the night of the 2004 NBA draft, and he had spent the entirety of his nine-plus year career with the organization.
"We have great respect for Luol Deng, as a player and a person," Bulls GM Gar Forman said in a statement. "He has been an incredible contributor to our team on the court, and he has also done great things in the community. On behalf of the entire Bulls organization, I want to thank Luol for his years in Chicago. ... The moves made today will put us in a better position to make the entire roster stronger for the future and to compete for a championship."
Bynum, 26, was suspended by Cleveland last month for conduct detrimental to the team after an incident during practice. The 2012 All-Star center has been limited by knee injuries this season and his partially guaranteed $12.3 million contract was set to become fully guaranteed later this week. By trading for Bynum this week, the Bulls are able to release him and escape paying the remaining $6.3 million left on his 2013-14 salary.
Deng, 28, is averaging 19 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists this season. He is making $14.3 million in the final year of his deal and is reportedly seeking a new, multi-year contract that will top eight figures per year. The two-time All-Star forward has been among the league leaders in minutes played in recent years, and he is regarded as a superior wing defender.
Yahoo! Sports reported Monday that Deng rejected a three-year, $30 million contract extension offer from the Bulls last week.
Cleveland has been looking to fill its small forward position for some time and had reportedly been weighing the possibility of trading for Jazz forward Richard Jefferson this week. At 11-23, the Cavaliers are three games out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference despite entering the year with postseason aspirations. Deng's addition could help fuel a playoff push this season, and the Cavaliers are in a flexible cap position with the ability to offer him the big-dollar deal he desires.
The move also cuts ties with Bynum, who averaged 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 24 games but had apparently worn out his welcome. Bynum’s ability to cope with the injuries and the mental transition to becoming a lesser player have been looming. In November, Bynum told reporters that he had given "serious thought" to retirement because of his ongoing knee issues, which he called "career-threatening" and which already cost him his entire 2012-13 season with Philadelphia.
"I’m worried about the guys in the locker room," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said in December after Bynum's suspension, according to The Associated Press. "It’s as simple as that. In our business there are a lot of ups and a lot of downs throughout the season. I think you all understand that. So what you do as a head coach is you keep moving forward."
Chicago, meanwhile, has seen its year torpedoed by a season-ending knee injury to Derrick Rose. With a payroll approaching $80 million, the Bulls were well over the $71.7 million luxury-tax threshold before the move. Once Bynum is released, the Bulls will be able to get under the tax line. Bynum will become an unrestricted free agent after the Bulls waive him. Recent reports have linked the Heat and Clippers to interest in his services.