Yesterday, I wrote about the Cleveland Cavaliers reeking of desperation when seeking to make deals for mostly unproductive veterans in Pau Gasol and Richard Jefferson. The Cavs want to embark on a playoff run this year, and they wanted people to help. Gasol, at this stage of his career, and Jefferson, the version from the past 4 seasons, would not make them significantly better.
But Luol Deng should, and his acquisition makes Cleveland a much better team. Even if, as I said, they're basically building a bridge to nowhere.
Like everything else in life, the Bulls were motivated by the almighty dollar. Standing above the luxury tax line, and below .500 in the standings, the Bulls could reasonably do one of three things to manage their salary situation: stand pat, give up draft picks or other cost-certain assets to dump Carlos Boozer's onerous contract, or dump Luol Deng's friendlier contract and gain something out of it.
Standing pat would limit their future spending or make it so expensive to field a competitive team that it wouldn't be worth it for owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who has the a "cheap" reputation to begin with. And with uncertainty surrounding Derrick Rose, payroll flexibility is valuable, especially if they have to launch into a full rebuild. Paying the repeater tax should not be considered an option when your team is in the lottery, unless a suspicious Russian billionaire owns it.
The options, then, were trading Boozer and his deal, along with sweeteners, or moving Deng and his contract and getting something back in return. Unfortunately for Bulls fans, the preferred option was clear. Deng is a free agent at the end of the season with no guarantee of return. He grabbed the team a potential future first round pick. The team and player disagreed over the player's value. It happens.
Whether or not this is a good move for the Cavaliers long-term (protip: it's not), the Cavs can at least make a playoff run this year after moving three draft picks and Andrew Bynum's attitude to Chicago. Two low second rounders (a$$et$, as we like to call them around here) and a 50-50 shot at a future Kings' pick aren't much of a price to pay for a very good player like Luol Deng, especially when you don't consider every other ripple effect this will have on the team.
This is good for the Sixers. The Evan Turner trade pipedream was never meant to be, especially if all that would return was Dion Waiters. The Cavaliers will get better, which is important for our draft odds. The Bulls will get worse, but Tom Thibodeau will play for wins so long as he's coaching, so they also should finish with a superior record to the Sixers.
As for how it affects the team in tonight's game? Well, Deng won't play tonight - the trade call will probably go in today, and then there's passing the physical - not exactly a guarantee considering Deng's injury history - and finally not knowing the team's plays. Instead, the Sixers will get a shell of the real Cavaliers roster if Kyrie Irving remains out with his knee injury. The Sixers, once thought to be a shell of an NBA team, likely have more talent than the Cavaliers without Irving. Please be healthy, Kyrie.
Go visit the wonderful Fear The Sword for more on the Deng trade and tonight's game. I'm sure they have opinions.
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