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Reports: Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors talk Luol Deng trade

By Ben Golliver | Blogger
Is Bulls forward Luol Deng on the trading block? (Getty Images)

Are the Chicago Bulls going to follow up a lost season by blowing up their core this summer?

Multiple reports indicate that the Bulls are shopping forward Luol Deng and the British forward seems at ease with a possible change of scenery.

ESPNChicago.com also reports Bulls/Warriors trade talks and notes that the Bulls and Deng may be at odds because he plans to compete for Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympics despite a wrist ligament injury while Chicago management would have preferred that he undergo surgery and skip the summer ball.

Deng, 27, averaged 15.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.0 steals in a league-leading 39.4 minutes per game last season.

With the No. 7 pick, Chicago would likely have their pick from the likes of Jeremy Lamb, Austin Rivers and Dion Waiters. There's backcourt talent in that range, for sure.

Deng is on the books for $13.3 million in 2012-13 and $14.3 million in 2013-14. The Bulls already have big dollars committed to Rose, their franchise point guard, plus untradeable forward Carlos Boozer and center Joakim Noah. They're projected to be way over the salary cap for the foreseeable future.

Biedrins, similarly, is on the books for $9 million in 2012-13 and he has a player option he's sure to exercise in 2013-14 for the same amount. Wright is entering the final year of his contract in 2012-13 and will make $4 million. Factor in the rookie scale contract owed to the No. 7 pick and this trade is pretty much a wash financially, at least for the next two seasons.

For Golden State, this move would fit into the win-now goals set by ownership, coach Mark Jackson and a fanbase that's waited year after year for a playoff team. The Warriors have made the small forward position a high priority in their summer planning and Deng, one of the league's best two-way perimeter players and he has loads of playoff experience, is a significant upgrade over Wright. The big question is whether it's smart to have three players with injury issues -- Deng, Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut -- as the roster's main three centerpieces. Moving out of Biedrins' contract is a win in and of itself.

As for the Bulls, who are firmly in a championship window despite the loss of Rose to a torn ACL in the playoffs, this is a bit more curious. Chicago just watched the Miami Heat march through the Eastern Conference thanks to the exquisite perimeter talent of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Is moving your best perimeter defender for a shooter and a shot at a promising youngster to fill out the backcourt the smartest play? There's no question the Bulls need to find a second shot-creator to help Rose but swapping Deng for a chance at such a player (and being forced to swallow Biedrins) would make Miami an even more overwhelming favorite heading into next season.

The two easiest explanations if Chicago does pursue this type of trade: the Bulls really, really like one of the available two guards in this range or the disagreement over Deng's playing during the Olympics went deeper than we currently know.

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