[Update by your friendly BullsBlogger, 01/09/14 9:31 AM CST: The Sun-Times has an interview with Deng's agent today, corroborating much of what Deng said when it comes to the Bulls 'take it or leave it' offer. Specifically: "I think the purpose of it was for us to say no" ]
Shortly after the Bulls traded Luol Deng to the Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum and draft picks, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Deng had turned down a three-year, $30 million contract extension. This was also reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, and Bulls VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson basically confirmed it when doing his media rounds on Tuesday.
Deng obviously said no to that offer, and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today said the former Bulls forward was seeking a new contract in the $15-16 million per year range based on what Josh Smith got from the Pistons this past offseason.
On Wednesday, Deng denied ever asking for $15 million in an interview with K.C., and he also said not much negotiating happened with the Bulls. Not in the summer, and not a few days ago:
"My thing is in the summer, I never came with a number," Deng told the Tribune. "I heard on the radio that I asked for 15 (million). I would never ask for a number. We came to (general manager) Gar (Forman) last summer and we wanted to sit down and talk. And Gar didn't want to talk. They felt like they wanted to wait and see how everything goes with Derrick (Rose).
"Three days before the trade, Gar called me upstairs and put three years, $30 million on the table. Take it or leave it. No negotiation. I said no and that was it. But 15? That's the only thing that upset me. I'm not upset with the organization. I want everyone to understand that. If I was a GM, would I make that move? Maybe."
Deng added that he wanted to stay in Chicago and finish his career there, and he also admitted that not talking in the summer bothered him a bit. He hinted that perhaps he would've been willing to take a little less if there was some negotiating in the offseason, although I'm still not sure he would've done it because the Bulls could only have offered three years on an extension. Even so, the fact that there was almost no negotiation at all, at least according to Deng, seems a little rotten. But the Bulls clearly had a number in mind that wouldn't be exceeded, and once that was denied, it was sayonara.
Deng went on to show how great of a guy he is, talking about how much he appreciated the love from all his teammates. He also gave a shout out to all the other people in the Bulls organization he built relationships with over the years:
"I wish (the trade) was face-to-face so I could say good-bye to my teammates," Deng said. "I had to call them and talk to each one. There are workers at the stadium, people at the Berto, I wanted to say good-bye face-to-face. After nine or 10 years, those are not just people you work with. Some of them, I'm closer to them than teammates. The way I went down, I wish it wasn't a phone call."
That Luol Deng is a real class act. Good thing the Bulls treated him so well all those years.