The Cleveland Cavaliers traded Andrew Bynum, the Sacramento Kings’ 2014 first-round pick (protected 1-12), the Portland Trail Blazers 2015 and ’16 second-round picks and the right to swap first-round picks with the Cavaliers in 2015 if the Cavs’ pick is outside the top 14 to the Chicago Bulls for two-time all-star small forward Luol Deng, late Tuesday afternoon. The Chicago Bulls have since waived Andrew Bynum.
“But what does it all mean Basil?”
Cleveland Cavaliers: For the Cavaliers the trade delivers a significant upgrade at what is arguably their weakest position (SF), with Deng automatically stepping into a starting line-up that will conceivably feature Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Deng, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao. Deng also automatically becomes the Cavaliers second-best player, providing all-star point guard and face of the franchise Kyrie Irving with what is easily the best player he has been paired with so far. The Cavaliers also manage to rid themselves of the disruptive locker room presence of Bynum, and replace it with the veteran leadership and stability of the universally respected Deng.
Chicago Bulls: For the Chicago Bulls, the trade delivers some much needed draft-picks including an extra first-rounder (albeit heavily protected) in a highly anticipated draft class and (courtesy of the waiving of Bynum and the remainder of Deng’s salary) some of the cap-relief necessary to ensure that they do not go over the luxury tax threshold, something which the historically tight ownership insists on as a priority given the current injured status of franchise-guy Derrick Rose. The trade also frees the Bulls from participating in a bidding war for the services of restricted free-agent Deng at seasons end, something which was almost a given to occur, following Deng’s reported rejection of a significant extension offer from the Bulls. The trade also frees up heavy playing time for the Bulls young prospects.
Who Won the Trade?
From my perspective this deal is a mutually beneficial one that provides the ideal pieces for the direction each of these two franchises appear to be taking. The Cavaliers ‘won’ the trade in the context of receiving easily the best (and really the only) player exchanged in the deal in Deng, a two-time all-star, renowned and revered for his willingness to play hard at both ends and respected for his willingness to sacrifice his own game for the good of the team. Deng is a bonafide star and an absolute professional and is the exact type of player that the young and unstable Cavaliers need to make a serious push towards the playoffs in the depleted Eastern Conference. While there is an element of risk present in Deng’s impending status as a restricted-free-agent, one would have to assume that the Cavaliers are confident internally that they can secure Deng’s signature before or slightly after the bidding for his services begins. It’s hard to believe that GM Chris Grant would have made this move without at least an indication from Deng that he’d be willing to resign with the Cavaliers if the offer was right.
If this is how it all unfolds, and Deng helps the Cavaliers to secure a playoff spot and then proceeds to sign on with the team, then this trade seems destined to be remembered as a success for the Cavaliers. If somehow it backfires, the loss of draft picks will hurt, however considering the treasure chest of assets the Cavaliers possess (and their questionable drafting record) it won’t be the end of the world, so while I would have liked them to play hard-ball a little more with the Bulls and perhaps hold onto one of the picks, I can understand why they made the move the way they did and I am happy that they did so.
The Chicago Bulls ‘won’ the trade in the sense that they rid themselves of a potentially costly bidding war which they were never likely to win, wiped a ton of money off of their books and landed a swag of draft-picks that they can use to accelerate what appears to be a full-scale rebuilding process. The Bulls become even bigger winners in this instance if they do what they are tipped to and amnesty Boozer at seasons end, freeing up large sums of money to chase one of the sparkling prizes potentially on offer in the free agent classes of 2015 and 2016.
For the Bulls the trade could be seen as an admission that the team has reached their ceiling, at least for now and that given the injured status of Derrick Rose, it makes sense to rebuild through either the draft or the aforementioned free-agent classes and make a run at a title with a fully restored Rose in 2014-2015 or 2015-2016. If this is the plan, then this trade positions the Bulls ideally to embark on either or both of those two rebuilding processes and as such the trade can be seen as an absolute bonafide win.
So Who ‘Lost’ the Trade ?
Andrew Bynum, the man couldn’t even keep himself together enough to reach the guarantee date on his contract. He’ll attract some interest on waivers but surely it’s a case of a budget price and even then it is still a case of buyer beware, the man just lacks the desire to match his obviously great talent. A real shame. Oh well, at least he can do more of this now.