Luol Deng and The Chicago Bulls had stalled on extension talks, as reported by CSN Chicago and described by Fansided’s Pippen Ain’t Easy, and now it appears the talks may have ended for good. According to Deng’s agent, his client will be testing the market next summer, via the Chicago Tribune:
The agent for Luol Deng said Tuesday that the two-time All-Star forward would “certainly visit free agency” next summer after being informed by Bulls management that contract extension talks would be tabled until after the 2013-14 season.
“Luol has taken the position that he will definitely go through the free-agent process,” said Herb Rudoy, Deng’s Chicago-based agent.
With a breakout playoffs from Jimmy Butler last season, Luol Deng has unexpectedly become expendable. The Bulls are likely not offering the kind of money Deng thinks he deserves, so he seemingly assumes he may get more from another team. Of course, this could all be a strategy from his camp to force the Bull’s hand, but it looks like the ship is starting to sail for Luol in Chicago.
Deng joins Zach Randolph and Danny Granger as the top players who will actually be available next summer (sorry Lakers fans, Lebron and Melo aren’t going anywhere). When teams with cap space lose out on the Lebron James sweepstakes, Deng could snatch up at least 4 years and 48 million dollars, which is what Andre Iguodala got from the Warriors back in July. Deng averaged 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds last season, shooting 42.6% from the field. He would be a nice piece on a team, but making him the number 1 option would be unwise.
Being an expiring contract, he is unlikely to be traded this season, as the Bulls will need the cap space to sign another star to join Derrick Rose. They most likely couldn’t trade him without taking any salary back, and if they amnesty Carlos Boozer next summer, the Bulls will be poised to be major players on the market. Deng is a good defender, who is long and can rebound at a high rate (he grabbed 12.5% of all defensive rebounds when on the court last season), but he needs to improve on his outside shot, as he shot just 32% from beyond the arc last season. Nonetheless, expect Deng to get paid next season, just not from the Bulls (Ahem, we’re looking at you Lakers).