Dec 27, 2013, 9:03 PM EDT
The Luol Deng trade watch in Chicago will continue right on through February’s deadline to make deals, even if it remains questionable at best whether or not anything real comes of the discussions.
When the Bulls failed to offer Deng a contract extension, it was presumed that he wouldn’t be back after this season — his contract is up this summer, at which time he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.
Chicago clearly didn’t want to overpay for Deng, a two-time All-Star who’s more than capable of contributing at both ends of the floor, but one who isn’t exactly able to carry a team all by himself. And considering that his current contract paid him max money and that he’ll be looking for similar dollars in his next deal, the Bulls chose the cautious approach, even though they would like to retain Deng for the future at a palatable price.
Teams around the league know the situation, so the trade talks are ongoing. But the Bulls’ asking price seems a bit on the high side at this point, and if it remains that way a deal isn’t likely to take place anytime soon.
Luol Deng is a wanted man. No, certainly not by law enforcement and not even so much on the NBA’s trade market, as many teams are hesitant to take him on as a half-season rental, especially if the Bulls’ price is a productive young player and a first-round draft pick, as people in the know around the league continue to say. …
Deng’s agent, Ron Shade, wouldn’t confirm the identities of the teams who have inquired about Deng’s future services but did admit that his client has drawn multiple inquiries.
“Several teams have already shown a lot of interest in Luol’s upcoming free agency. A lot of people are excited. A lot of people were shocked that no offer was extended to him for us to turn down and a lot of people are excited to get a chance to bid for a player like Lu, and they think it’s a great opportunity to might be able to get him for nothing in return if the Bulls let him walk,” said Shade, who along with Herb Rudoy represents Deng.
The teams that have reportedly expressed interest in Deng include the Cavaliers, Mavericks, Lakers, Raptors, Spurs, Grizzlies and Nets, among others.
But unless a team is a contender already — which means really only the Spurs on that list — it doesn’t make sense to meet the Bulls’ demands, especially when (a) Deng’s status beyond this season is a question mark, and (b) if his presence on a new team won’t make a material difference in how this season might play out, then it would make more sense to just sign him outright when he hits the open market next summer.