CHICAGO, IL - MAY 08: Loul Deng #9 of the Chicago Bulls shoots a look at a referee after being knocked down against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on May 8, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the 76ers 77-69. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Luol Deng wasn't traded for a draft pick Thursday night. It was something that had been rumored leading up to the draft, but never really came to fruition. Gar Forman tried to make it clear after the draft that they weren't shopping Deng. But there was likely some truth to the rumors, just that no logical trade partner was willing, as KC Johnson reported:
The Bulls previously explored trading into the lottery, dangling Deng as bait, according to league sources. But talks never grew serious with any lottery teams who could absorb most or all of Deng's $13.365 million salary into salary cap space, and those talks quieted over the last few days...Harrison Barnes, whom the Bulls met with at the predraft camp earlier this month, went to theat seventh. The Warriors were offering only bad contracts in return for a chance to take their lottery pick.
It was apparent in any rumor involving the Warriors that the Bulls wanted to get in the lottery only if it meant saving some payroll as well. Which is hard to do, which is why it didn't happen.
Should the Bulls have been interested in a pick on it's own merit, money be damned? Bulls Confidential's draft guy Kevin States seems to think this was a unique class worth the risk.
What I am tired of is just settling to be stable in life when there are possibilities to live prosperous.
If the Bulls want to be serious about winning the whole, eventually they are going to have to make a real move and not just settle and hope things fall into their laps. The Bulls FO is good at drafting and good at coming out ahead when the make moves. They are a good front office, but I hope they can become elite. If we plan on building around Rose, Noah, and including Deng, Deng better re-sign for cheap at like 8-9 million on his next contract if we are serious about winning. Otherwise, I feel we gave away an opportunity to strike while his value is still crazy high - maybe there is something out there later.
Doug Thonus follows up at his blog with some weirdo life-lesson stuff (as he is wont to do) about not judging on what doesn't happen, or something. I disagree: if you want to rebuild now, and think Harrison Barnes or whoever was available at #7 was someone worth trying to rebuild with, then you can judge the Bulls for not taking on some bad salary to do so.
Because that IS an option. In KC's article and elsewhere, the addition of 19 year old Marquis Teague (who, it should be said, everyone quoted here likes) plus the myth of Mirotic, and myth of financial peril suggest a look to freaking 2014 as a target to see the Bulls building again. We don't know just how bad the Warriors contracts were, but it likely wasn't any that extended beyond the length of Deng's current deal. So if the Bulls chose, it could've been all about just getting another young talent if that's the route the Bulls chose.
But I'm glad they didn't. Part of it is (perhaps delusional) believing that a team that's performed this well is worth keeping together. But that may be shot regardless: one of their biggest strengths was depth and that may be gutted. Another strength was due to an extremely-high reliance on Derrick Rose and that isn't (or shouldn't be) available anymore.
Another reason though is that I didn't think Deng's value was especially high. In fact, I didn't even think he was tradeable for this draft given his impending wrist surgery. If he's missing a couple months into next year, that would've depressed any trade package a team would give back to the Bulls.
Then out of seemingly nowhere on Friday, Tom Thibodeau spoke to AM1000 and not only sounded like Deng possibly won't have the surgery after all, but he's expecting him not to:
coach Tom Thibodeau said Friday he does not think Luol Deng will need surgery on his left wrist, and he expects the All-Star forward to be in camp on time after he represents the United Kingdom in the Olympics.
"He's feeling a lot better; his wrist is a lot stronger," Thibodeau said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I think it's going to work out well."
When asked if Deng would have surgery, Thibodeau said: "No, I don't think so. The way it is right now, he's going to play in those (Olympic) games, he's going to come back and continue his training. He said his wrist is feeling a lot better."
When asked if Deng should be in camp on time, Thibodeau said: "I believe so."
Ever since Deng injured his wrist, it was always mentioned as a possibility that the surgery wasn't absolutely required, and players had recuperated with rest. But Deng's play certainly suffered after the injury, and him playing in his home country's Olympics became a story because it's, well, not rest, and only putting off the surgery.
It's odd that Thibodeau would be the one to put such information out there, and maybe this is the type of pointless gamesmanship that had him 'hilariously' declaring Derrick Rose a gametime decision all year. And thus Thibs is amongst the least I trust when it comes to injuries. But maybe that actually makes it more significant coming from him, as in: he wouldn't disclose as such if the Org. didn't tell him.
SBNChicago's Ricky O'Donnell suggests that maybe its the Bulls who are pressuring Deng to try rest, as a restitution of sorts for not getting the surgery in a timetable that wouldn't affect their season. That's a delightfully cynical thought and I applaud it as such. But it'd be an unfortunate way to treat a player whose always done what they've asked, except skip the most important sporting event of his life.
Though seeing Deng playing in November would be a way to get that trade value back up...