When the braintrust of the Chicago Bulls pulled the trigger on a deal to send franchise stalwart Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night, the message was clear. Management did not believe that the Bulls' roster, as constituted, was going to win an NBA championship, this year or any other. That much is clear by the return on the deal, which was a package of future draft picks and the chance to slip under the luxury tax line.
The financial implications in the deal are personified in the person of center Andrew Bynum, who might already be on the waiver wire by the time you read these words. In a league where every trade has layers of complexity because of the collective bargaining agreement, it's refreshing to know there are still some fans out there who take these swaps at face value. Those pure souls went on Twitter wondering why Chicago would trade Deng for a center when they already had Joakim Noah in place.
Well, they didn't, of course. Bynum is not going to be a Bull. Everything Chicago received in exchange for Deng's 9½ years of service is at present time an abstract.
And that's fine. We always preach about franchises establishing a clear direction and then keeping to the paths they forge. Chicago is going into remake mode and in any major shuffling of the roster, Deng did not fit. In this mode, Carlos Boozer is a goner, a surefire recipient of the amnesty tag when the next league moratorium rolls around in July. At that point, the Bulls can renounce their rights to free-agent-to-be Kirk Hinrich and will then sit about $10 million under a projected 2014-15 salary cap of approximately $61 million.
So what's next?