With Derrick Rose down and out yet again, all the talk surrounding the Bulls has moved from championship to whether or not the Bulls should "tank," or rebuild, depending on what term you prefer to use. Gar Forman and Jerry Reinsdorf have both come out in support of the current group, but it's hard to take anything they say about that at face value.
In any case, Luol Deng's name was sure to come up in trade rumors, something he realizes himself, per ESPN Chicago's Nick Friedell. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been mentioned as a possible destination, and whaddya know, we have ourselves a rumor already involving the Cavs (although it is just Broussard):
Sources: Cavs shopping Dion Waiters. They've spoken w/Chi, NYK & Philly. No deal imminent. Waiters is open to being traded.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) November 27, 2013
The Cavs, including Waiters, have gotten off to a pretty horrific start after entering the season with playoff hopes. Cleveland is 4-10, and GM Chris Grant may be on the hot seat and looking to add a veteran piece to help stabilize the core of young players. That's of course where Deng comes in, and Broussard mentions the Cavs' interest in the Bulls' small forward in his full piece on the situation.
Waiters is certainly an intriguing talent. He was a sixth man at Syracuse, but the Cavs picked him No. 4 in the 2012 NBA Draft because of his potential. In his rookie season, Waiters showed flashes of being an excellent scorer at the 2, although he wasn't very efficient, shooting just 41.2 percent overall and 31.0 percent from three.
This season, that three-point shooting is up at 38.9 percent...but he's at just 38.9 percent overall. In addition to the offensive inefficiency, he's had some issues with his teammates. During a recent players only meeting, Waiters called out Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, which nearly led to a fight between Waiters and Thompson.
In terms of a deal with the Bulls, obviously you can't just trade Deng for Waiters, because salary cap rules and all that. Waiters is making $3.89 million this year, while Deng is at $14.3 million, so the Bulls would have to take back at least about $5.6 million more in a deal. The Cavs do have some spare parts that they likely would have no problem moving, with guys like Earl Clark (after Dec. 15), C.J. Miles, Alonzo Gee and Tyler Zeller as potential options. Clark and Gee both have fully unguaranteed contracts for next year, while Miles is fully unguaranteed this season.
I can't imagine the Cavs want to give up on Anthony Bennett just yet, but who knows. Anderson Varejao is another option, although that would mean less tax relief and at least $4 million in salary for next year if he were to be waived after this season. Andrew Bynum could also be a possibility after Dec. 15, as he could just be included in the deal for salary purposes and then waived immediately and paid only $6 million.
At 21, Waiters is a young, cheap asset and could possibly be a nice fit next to Rose, with Jimmy Butler sliding to the 3. I would like to get a first-round pick back in a Deng trade, but I'm not so sure the Cavs would include one here (or in any deal?), although they do also have a protected top 12 pick from the Kings in addition to their own for 2014. There are also a few future protected picks that could be in play. But even if a pick wasn't included, a guy like Waiters may be the type of player the Bulls would expect to draft in the mid-to-late first round. There are some serious red flags with Waiters, but this is the kind of deal the Bulls should consider.