When the Chicago Bulls made the decision to trade their fourth all-time leading scorer Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers late Monday evening it signaled a sign that the Bulls were in rebuilding mode as they collected draft picks and saved some cash in the deal.
However, former coach and current ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy doesn’t think the Bulls got enough for the two-time All-Star.
“Even if you don’t believe that Luol Deng is as good as [Carmelo] Anthony, he’s pretty close because he’s a two-way player. … He’s not as good, but they didn’t get much back for him,” Van Gundy said on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN Chicago 1000. “They only got rid of Bynum’s contract, and to me, when you’re trading no question your second-best player, and I don’t think anybody can question that, and you get very little back for him … I was surprised they didn’t explore trading for guys who have similar-sized contracts that weren’t going to expire to see if they could have gotten more of a Carmelo Anthony-type haul where they had real valuable assets.”
Van Gundy was a defensive-oriented coach so of course he will value Deng and his ability on both ends of the court more than the offensive superstar Anthony who fetched four players, a first round pick, two second round picks and cash when the New York Knicks traded for him from the Denver Nuggets.
“You can say we want to do better than Deng, but there’s very limited players in this league that are available that are better than Deng, and they will cost huge money, too, more than Deng would cost. To me, when you have a guy in his prime who is a very good two-way player, those guys are hard to find. You’re going to be, in Chicago, hoping that you find a guy as good as Deng.”
The Bulls reportedly offered Deng a three-year, $30 million extension which was rejected, so getting something for a player who would walk and leave the team with nothing but memories of his tenure in Chicago seems like a good deal to me.
The Bulls will need to hit on the first rounder acquired from Cleveland and make a big splash in free agency (Carmelo Anthony?) for the deal to be a real win for the Bulls.