Cleveland, OH, United States (4E Sports) – The Cleveland Cavaliers have sent center Andrew Bynum and three future draft picks to the Chicago Bulls for two-time All-Star Luol Deng, who is expected to boost the team’s small forward position.
Deng is expected to boost the backcourt tandem of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters as the Cavaliers push to end a three-year playoff drought.
The 28-year-old Deng is averaging 19 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 23 games but he has been bothered by an injured Achilles that caused him to miss nine games over the past six weeks. He has returned to play in the Bulls’ past three games.
The Cavs, who have lost eight of their past nine games and have been missing Irving with a knee injury, are hoping Deng helps them turn things around.
“We have worked to acquire and maintain flexibility in order to capitalize on opportunities such as this,” Cavs general manager Chris Grant said. “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,” Grant added.
The Bulls plan to waive Bynum and clear his $12.3 million salary off their books to have enough room for next season’s draft and free agent marker. The move will save the team more than $20 million.
Though he was suspended by the Cavs for one game for conduct detrimental to the team and excused from team activities, Bynum is expected to be chased on the open market.
The Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks are among the teams expected to consider offering him a landing spot.
In addition to the savings, the Bulls got a future first-round draft pick owed to the Cavs by the Sacramento Kings from a 2011 trade for J.J. Hickson.
The Bulls had said they wanted to keep Deng, whom they drafted in 2004 and signed to a $71 million extension in 2008. But talks on a new contract for Deng, who is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season, had stalled and the savings and the draft considerations were enticing.
“We have great respect for Luol Deng as a player and a person,” Bulls general manager Gar Forman said. “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.”