By RICK SOLEM
The first big trade went down in the NBA. It will be the first of many, while teams try to play in or out of the playoffs/draft lottery.
Basically, Cleveland gets Luol Deng and Chicago gets a first-round pick as long as it’s not in the Top 12 next year and two second-round picks (the nitty gritty will be discussed later). Chicago also got, and cut, Andrew Bynum.
Below are the major media outlet and my grades.
I’m extreme, yes, but here’s why ...
The easy answer (which is a question): Does the addition of Deng allow Cleveland to challenge the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers for the conference title?
The only way I see this making sense is if the Cavs flip Deng for better assets. Personally, I would have taken the L.A. Lakers’ offer of Pau Gasol for Bynum straight up.
Gasol and Deng are both free agents and gone next year. But, Gasol, 33, who had gone to medical school for a year before going pro – in other words, he’s smart - would have helped young forwards Tristan Thompson, 22, and Anthony Bennett develop.
Bennett, 20, last year’s first round pick, is a disaster: 11 minutes, 2.5 points on a whopping 27-percent shooting to go with 2.3 rebounds a game.
But I digress. Now, back to Deng.
He’s an unrestricted free agent. The Cavs can offer him more money and years than anyone else, but, at 28, they won’t do that. Or shouldn’t.
Deng already turned down 3 years, 3 years, $30 million from the Bulls recently, according to Yahoo! Sports. That’s about what he’s worth and Chicago is in a better situation than Cleveland.
Is Cleveland a place where a guy from the Sudan - with one more big contract left in him - wants to spend the final prime years of his career?
What if the Milwaukee Bucks gave up their first-round pick for Deng and then watched him leave next year? Oh, wait, they basically did that with J.J. Reddick last year. They gave up Tobias Harris – a blossoming first-round pick – for Reddick, who is now on the Clippers.
Deng won’t be on the Cavs next year, which is precisely why this trade makes zero sense for Cleveland (12-23 – 12th in the Eastern Conference).
Short term, he helps them win games, maybe so many that Cleveland makes the playoffs … and loses in the first round to Miami or Indiana.
And, in doing so, takes itself out of the draft lottery … which gives its draft pick to Chicago, all while waving goodbye to Deng, who goes to either a contending team or a team that overpays him.
Still with me?
Long term, he stays in Cleveland, which overpays him, and it can’t sign any other free agents because it’s over the salary cap … because of Deng. And it doesn’t have a draft pick, because Chicago has it. And the Cavs run out the same lineup they have now, next year, because it has no draft picks, and lose in the first round of the playoffs. Again.
Cleveland fans should be infuriated. Bucks fans would be. They still are because of the Harris-Reddick trade. I know I am.
Even after the fact, fans questioned why the Bucks would sign Zaza Pachulia and O.J. Mayo this offseason for three years to get a bottom seed in the playoffs and lose in the first round … again.
The only caveat is the Bucks signed all those guys, and are losing at an incredible rate, which I touched on here.
On the Chicago side of the coin, it’s simple and the opposite thinking Cleveland has. They’re ‘tanking.’
Currently, the Bulls are 15-18 and sixth in the East. That should change. Derrick Rose is out for the season again. Deng is going to walk after this season anyway. What’s the point of making the playoffs with him?
The Bulls get picks – teams don’t trade first-round picks very often anymore, this is almost unheard of - cut Bynum, because of a funky “Bynum is crazy” contract clause. That saves them $20 million in salary and luxury tax, and they will find their way into the draft lottery. Plus, the way the draft lottery works, the Bulls will probably mysteriously end up with the first pick.
The exact details of the deal are as follows: Chicago gets Sacramento’s first-round pick that’s protected from picks 1-12 in the upcoming draft and 1-10 in 2015, 2016 and 2017. If it goes beyond that, Chicago gets Sacramento’s second-round pick in 2017.
The Bulls also get two second-round picks which Cleveland attained from Portland. And, lastly, they can swap 2015 picks, but only if Cleveland is picking outside the Top 14 pick.