Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng (9) pulls down a rebound. Reuters/Ray Stubblebine
MANILA – By giving up two-time All-Star player Luol Deng, the Chicago Bulls kissed its 2013-2014 NBA season goodbye, a Filipino sports analyst said.
The Bulls traded Deng away in exchange for Cleveland’s problematic center Andrew Bynum in a move seen as a preparation for the upcoming draft and next season.
Basketball analyst Marco Benitez told ANC Chicago essentially gave up on the current season after its superstar, 2011 Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose, was ruled out for the rest of the year due to injury.
Benitez said the Bulls also decided to save up for the 2014 NBA draft to bolster its injury plagued roster.
Chicago saves $16 million in salary by letting go of Deng, he said. “They can also waive Andrew Bynum and save around $6.3 million,” added Benitez during an interview on ANC Top Story.
In exchange for Deng, the Bulls also secured a future first-round draft pick owed to Cleveland by the Sacramento Kings. All Chicago now has to do is “tank” its 2013-2014 season to fall outside the top 12 in this season.
“The Bulls have a first round pick for the 2014 draft and we all know that the 2014 draft have guys like Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. So by quote unquote ‘tanking’ for the rest of the season, they get a bigger chance of getting those top two picks as well save the money from the luxury factor,” said Benitez.
Cleveland, a winner
Cleveland, on the other hand, got a winner in Deng.
Benitez said the 6’9” small forward is a favorable addition to the Cavaliers who are seeking to make it into the playoffs this year.
“It is a good move for the Cavaliers, showing this time that they're really serious about their playoffs push,” said Benitez.
“Right now they're three games behind 8th place in the Eastern Conference and they can actually make it to fifth or sixth place with the addition of Luol Deng in their roster.”
The analyst said Deng has a winning attitude and playoff experience, which can help influence the rest of the Cavs’ lineup.
“[You have] a proven All-Star, a guy who plays both ends of the floor, and if you look at the lineup of Cleveland, almost all of their players have no playoff experience. The fact that they have a proven winner in Luol Deng already means a lot is going to happen in that locker room,” said Benitez.
What happens to Bynum?
On Bynum, Benitez said the former Cavs center is unlikely to get the salary he wants from any team that would want to play him.
The 7-footer is coming off a knee injury and has had problems getting along with his team mates.
“There will be health issues because of his recurring knee problem so the salary or contract he used to be able to command, I don’t think his next team would be willing to give that much especially the injuries that had happened to him and given the attitude problems or concerns he has shown in Cleveland,” said Benitez.
Chicago is reportedly planning to waive Bynum on Wednesday, thereby making him a free agent.
According to ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks are among the teams expected to consider offering him a landing spot.