Luol Deng's future still uncertain
Should he stay or should he go? Luol Deng's future is uncertain as the team continues to slide down the standings in the absence of Derrick Rose.
Deng's future is complicated; if the Bulls don't trade him by the Feb. 20 deadline, the organization will have to pursue him through unrestricted free agency. More teams may jump in the mix and offer him more money than the Bulls. There's a good chance Chicago could walk out of the situation empty handed.
But is there enough value in the trade pool to get a dollar-for-dollar return on the 28-year-old All-Star? Not likely. The Bulls are one game behind the Celtics for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, so I don't think anyone in the front office is making a move to compete with the Pacers or Heat this year.
ESPN reported that the Bulls are interested in trading Deng for a young player and first-round draft pick. The teams reportedly interested in acquiring the forward include: Cavaliers, Mavericks, Lakers, Raptors, Spurs, Grizzlies and Nets.
Most of the rumors that float around the Twittersphere revolve around exchanging Deng for players like Andrew Bynum or Iman Shumpert. I don't see a case for Bynum who has said multiple times that his love for basketball is declining and players like Shumpert wouldn't be enough to depart with Deng unless pick considerations were thrown in.
Would the Bulls miss Deng? In the long term, probably not.
Jimmy Butler is learning under the wing of head coach Tom Thibodeau and is slowly becoming a solid defender, as seen from his defense against LeBron James and other top-caliber players, and three-point shooter, essentially recreating Deng (They both weigh around 220 pounds but Deng has two inches on Butler).
With Rose (hopefully) returning 100 percent next year, the team could compete with young talents acquired from a Deng trade and have a short rebuilding period. It'll be a tough decision, though, because the East is very weak and the opportunity of capturing multiple home-court advantages through the playoffs are wide open in the future.
We still have more than a month for teams to decide, and we should get a better picture for a potential destination when squads destined for the playoffs get desperate after an injury to a star player or if they feel they can make a run for a title.