The Bulls front office has maintained that they don't want to trade Deng because they are intent on resigning him and are confident they can do so. Thus they aren't shopping him. The team values character and locker room chemistry. Thibs says Deng is the glue of the team. The Bulls would be a very good team, probably a fringe contender with health and luck next season if they keep Rose, Noah, Deng, Butler, Gibson and bring over Mirotic. Those are all good reasons to keep Deng and make the playoffs this season.
That said, given though the huge financial and draft position advantages to trading Deng, it makes sense to consider, can the Bulls trade him and then resign him in July?
Only Deng knows whether he'd be open to resigning after being traded at all. There's a risk that he'd like his new team more. But he's part of something good with a coach and teammates he respects so for now, lets assume he's willing to return.
Deng will probably seek similar money to Andre Iguodala (48M) and Josh Smith (54M). An 11M first year salary with 4.5% raises yields 47M over 4 years. A 13M first year salary with the same raises yields 55.6M over 4 years. So 11M-13M in cap space covers Deng accepting a slight discount to demanding a premium.
How do we get there?
Step 1: Trade Gibson and Dunleavy for expiring contracts and future picks.
Step 2: Amnesty Carlos Boozer
Step 3: Renounce Hinrich and other free agents.
Now the Bulls would have room to sign the #5 pick in the draft, Mirotic to the mid-level exception and Deng to a 4 year / $47M contract.
|#5 Pick salary *1.2||3.616|
Rose at the point, Deng and Butler on the wings, Mirotic and Noah up front is a playoff starting lineup, no? The bench would be young and inexperienced, but there would be some major talent there.
If 47M isn't enough to land Deng, then 2.5M can be freed up by trading Teague. Anymore than that would be counter productive. The Bulls need to sign Mirotic so they have a starting power forward. Maybe Snell could be moved as well, but then the team has no depth at all. Realistically, the Bulls can over Iguodala money, but not Josh Smith money. Which is closer to what he's worth anyway.
Trading Deng (and Gibson) is risky. But so is staying the course while LeBron is so good, the Thunder and Pacers keep improving and Deng, Gibson and Noah get closer to 30. A one year dip into the deep lottery to add more youth and talent to the core might be the best way to win a championship.