Luol Deng trade: Bulls secrecy leads to surprise

USA TODAY Sports

this is only mostly to poke fun at our hard-working local beat writers.

We've been all over this Deng trade, but one angle I wanted to go over was the media one, because it's easy and it tickles me.

I found the deal unsurprising because it saved the Bulls so much money, yet also very surprising in that it occurred on the same day we were being told by those who follow the team most closely that it wasn't going to happen.

Deng rumors had been popping up ever since Derrick Rose was injured, but the consensus by reporters/observers was more on the side that the Bulls were holding out for a real asset, and thus were in no rush to deal Deng. This was easy to believe since the Bulls are quite...deliberate.

Then Mitch Lawrence from the New York Daily News had a story on Saturday saying the Bulls were 'definitely' looking to move Deng. Now, I'd like to think this site does a fine job of discerning 'real' rumors. For one, if you're working for a legitimate outlet it's worth paying attention to, and Lawrence isn't on our no-fly list of reporters suspected to be full of it. It's all quite subjective, obviously.

So it was pretty funny (and downright delightful, in retrospect) to read early Monday a local beat reporter like CSNChicago's Aggrey Sam respond to Lawrence's report like this.

Since a report in a New York newspaper apparently has more credence than prior stories about the topic from the reporters regularly covering the team, including this writer, a portion of Monday’s Bulls practice at the Berto Center was focused upon the rumor that forwards Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer could be traded.

Certainly if the Bulls are offered the right deal for either player—a productive young player and a first-round pick for Deng, as previously reported in this space, while a swap for Boozer would require the organization not taking back salary, according to a league source—they would absolutely consider pulling the trigger. But those types of scenarios aren’t forthcoming at the moment.

For one thing, as a blogger it's bizarre to read how a media member has (wants?) to be passive-aggressive instead of directly linking the original report. Can't he say "I think Mitch Lawrence is full of shit?" since that's what he's saying?

Anyway, Chicago Tribune beat reporter KC Johnson wasn't as dismissive of Lawrence's report, but did still give it the stigma of 'non-local' in a story that has since been apparently scrubbed from the Tribune's site (ha!)

Over the weekend, a national media outlet reported the Bulls will "definitely be looking to trade Deng" before the Feb. 20 trade deadline....Here's reality regarding Deng, which has been reported previously in multiple local outlets: The Bulls are not shopping the two-time All-Star but would trade him if a team offers a rotation player and a first-round pick. The Bulls do not expect such an offer to materialize.

The Bulls could have traded Deng to the Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum...But there's no desire to trade Deng as a salary dump.

That very night, Deng was traded.

[In the wake of the trade, Johnson reported that the Cavs 'gave into the Bulls demands' for a first-round pick. But to me, given the pick protections this deal is still far closer to a 'salary dump' than the 'pick and a young player' price purported by both Johnson and Sam.]

So who did break the story? To a lot of us it was someone definitely not-local: Brian Windhorst who writes for ESPN.com and covers the Miami Heat, but previously had worked many years in Cleveland and thus likely got the story that way. Though technically someone even beat him, and ironically it turned out to be someone 'local', just not one of the usual beat reporters. It was Shams Charania, who is affiliated with RealGM.com, and after his report was praised by Adrian Wojnarowski as the "best young reporter in the business".

The lesson, here: while I of course appreciate the hard work being done by our local beat guys that I steal copy/paste, and they've gotten us great information after the deal, simply being 'close' to the team is not in and of itself making reports from them more reliable. It's not a set rule as to who to trust more, but you can use your judgement especially in figuring out who you shouldn't be dismissing. Mitch Lawrence has been doing this forever, and shouldn't have been disregarded because he was from New York City.

Also, remember that as Bulls fans, we are in a pretty unique situation when it comes to this stuff.

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