The trading deadline in the NBA is still more than a month away and Friday is the day that all non-guaranteed contracts become guaranteed for the remainder of the season.
Both of those factored into Monday night’s deal that sent two-time All-Star Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Chicago Bulls get center Andrew Bynum, three future draft picks … and some serious cash savings.
Don’t ever expect to see Bynum in Chicago’s red-and-black; the Bulls are expected to waive Bynum before the 5 p.m. Eastern deadline for guaranteed contracts, thus clearing his $12.3 million off their books. That will get Chicago’s payroll under the luxury tax threshold, an expected savings of more than $20 million.
The trade shows the focus of teams—Cleveland wants to end a three-year playoff drought while the Bulls position themselves for the future. The picks Chicago have acquired are a first-round pick from the Sacramento Kings that is top-12 protected in 2014 and top-10 protected in 2015=17, as well as 2015 and 2016 second-round selections from the Portland Trail Blazers. Cleveland had acquired the first-rounder from the Kings in a 2011 trade for J.J. Hickson; the picks from Portland stemmed from a draft night deal last June that sent the rights to Allen Crabbe to the Blazers.
Additionally, Chicago will have the right to swap first-round positions with Cleveland if the Cavs’ pick is outside of the top 14 selections.
Deng is averaging a career-high 19 points per game this season, along with 6.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and one steal a night in 37.4 minutes. He is shooting 45.2 percent overall, but just 27.4 percent from long range.
He has missed nine games, however, over the last six weeks because of a lingering injury to his left Achilles. Deng played Chicago’s last three games, scoring 47 points in 92 minutes while shooting 40.5 percent (17-for-42) overall and 1-for-5 from 3-point range. He had 18 rebounds, four assists and five steals.
Bynum had averaged 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20 minutes per game for the Cavaliers after missing the entire 2012-13 season with knee problems. However, Bynum was suspended and then placed on paid leave after a practice incident last month. Bynum is expected to clear waivers and become a free agent by the end of the week, with the Clippers, Heat and Knicks expected to be in hot pursuit.
Moving on to the NBA Best of the Week, where the players selected must play at least 25 minutes a game in more than half of their team’s games (rookies must average 20 minutes a game to be selected).
All statistical information from NBA.com/Stats.