CLEVELAND: Britain’s Luol Deng, an NBA All-Star forward, was traded by the Chicago Bulls to the Cleveland Cavaliers yesterday in a deal for Andrew Bynum and draft picks, the teams announced.
Deng, a 28-year-old playmaker born in what is now South Sudan, has averaged a career-best 19.0 points in 23 starts for the Bulls this season, also grabbing 6.9 rebounds and making 3.7 assists a game and connecting on 45.2 percent of his shots from the court.
Deng would have become a free agent at the end of the season. The Chicago Tribune reported he had rejected an extension with the Bulls worth $10m a year for three or four seasons.
The Cavaliers sent Chicago three future NBA Draft picks and the right to swap 2015 first-round draft picks with Cleveland as well as center Bynum, who is likely to be released before Tuesday’s deadline to have the second half of his $12.3m deal become guaranteed.
That will save the Bulls, who have already lost star Derrick Rose for the season to a knee injury, more than $10m in luxury tax payouts and give them more chances at top young talent in the draft for long-term rebuilding.
“The moves made today will put us in a better position to make the entire roster stronger for the future and to compete for a championship,” said Bulls general manager Gar Forman.
For the Cavaliers, it will combine Deng with 21-year-old Australian-born star guard Kyrie Irving to make Cleveland more formidable in a weak Eastern Conference.
“Luol reflects all that we are striving for in building our team. He’s a tremendous defensive player that can impact the game on both ends of the court with a ‘team first’ mentality and is a high character leader,” said Chris Grant, the team’s general manager.
The Bulls obtain the first-round pick in this year’s NBA Draft of Sacramento, which the Cavaliers had owned from a 2011 trade, as well as Portland’s second round picks in the 2015 and 2016 NBA Draft, obtained by Cleveland from the Trail Blazers last year.