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Luol Deng

Trade Analysis: Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers

Chicago Bulls get: C Andrew Bynum, a future protected first round pick (conveyed via Sacramento Kings), two 2nd round picks (conveyed via Portland Trail Blazers)
Cleveland Cavaliers get: SF Luol Deng
Although it seemed like an eternity, the “Andrew Bynum” saga, as it were, only played out for less than two weeks.
On December 28th, the former oft-injured Lakers All-Star center got himself suspended from a Cleveland team 10 games under .500 for “conduct detrimental to the team”. Sometimes this very vague violation is code for “this guy was being a disruptive asshole in the locker room” or “he was being disrespectful to the coaching staff” or even “this player is not talented enough for us to put up with his BS”. All of those descriptions really mean the same thing, but the baseline qualifier here is very much the last one: the perpetrator in question doesn’t add enough on the court to balance his being a dick.
As a casual observer of Andrew Bynum for his entire career up until last season when he was a part of a four team trade for Dwight Howard, I can attest that nothing has really changed from what I can tell of his antics in Cleveland. He’s always had this strange, faraway stare in his eyes while addressing anyone, which often extends to a disengaged gaze that’s plastered all across his face while he’s on the court. Bynum might not be immature as much as he’s just a very strange fellow, though the end result of either opinion is the same: he can be a hard teammate to get along with and a harder player to coach.
I’m not at all surprised that it didn’t work out for him in Cleveland. With his injury history, organizations are no longer looking at him like a prospect that a team can grow around or needs to be fostered for future production. He’s been extremely erratic on the court, no doubt a side effect of the ravages his multiple knee surgeries and rehabilitations. Drew himself has expressed that he doesn’t know if it’s even possible to get back to his All-NBA form, a statement which has partially led to the situation he’s in now. His infrequent bursts of talent weren’t at all offsetting what a huge pain in the ass he’s been, a situation which the Cavs smartly thought of when constructing his contract this offseason.… Read more...

The Return of the Chicago Bulls or the Return of Derrick Rose? Chicago Bulls Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Derrick Rose, SG Jimmy Butler, SF Luol Deng, PF Carlos Boozer, C Joakim Noah
Bench Players: PG Kirk Hinrich, SG Mike Dunleavy, SM Tony Snell, PF Taj Gibson, C Nazr Mohammed, PG Marquis Teague, PF Erik Murphy
Offseason additions: Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell, Erik Murphy
Offseason subtractions: Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson, Rip Hamilton
FACT OR FICTION: The return of Derrick Rose will change the face of the Eastern Conference.
FICTION: The Chicago Bulls 2012-2013 season was nothing short of magical. With their superstar point guard Derrick Rose out the entire season with a torn ACL, no one thought they would have accomplished what they did. Not only were they the 5th seed in the playoffs but they ousted the new and improved Brooklyn Nets and gave the Miami Heat a run for their money while battling literally every injury known to man. Sure they weren’t the prettiest team in the league when it came to offense but if you were to take away a superstar from any other team in the league, I doubt that any of them could have been as good as the Bulls.
With a record of 45-37, Thibodeau’s defensive brilliance took center stage last year. With three players worthy of Defensive Player of the Year, Chicago’s grind out, physical D even stopped Miami’s infamous 27 game win streak. But with Luol Deng leading the team in scoring with 16.5 ppg, the Bulls could never take that next step. Sure the emergence of Jimmy Butler was a welcome addition and Joakim Noah’s ever improving game helped but the Bulls still finished 29th in the league in scoring.… Read more...

BQ #3: How does Derrick Rose follow up his post-MVP season? What will it take to lead Chicago to a title?

After Derrick Rose won his MVP for leading the Bulls to a league leading 62 wins and a number one overall seed in the playoffs, I realized that that award is only recognized for greatness reserved to Hall of Famers (or Hall of Famers in waiting). Any man that won the MVP had a Hall of Fame career in back or in front of him. For the 22 year-old Rose, this is obviously the latter.

His individual play isn’t going to be the story here. Rose will be great, and with youth and a clean medical chart on his side, I will expect the same play from him as last year (and he better – the dude is the CRUX of my fantasy team, LukesRetirementParty). He was undoubtedly the guy who most made THE LEAP last season, and thus, I don’t know how much better he can truly get. The real story is going to be if his supporting cast is good enough to beat the Heat and Celtics to get to the NBA Finals.

How will this play out?

The rest of the Bulls roster is so strong, it’s hard to believe that this team came up short during the free agent bonanza of 2010. Carlos Boozer, who was never the same player after his wrist injury last year, cannot be as bad as he was in the playoffs (Bulls management hopes, anyway). The Bulls biggest and most glaring weakness, was the rotation of Kyle Korver and Keith Bogans at shooting guard. With former All-Star and NBA champion Rip Hamilton now in the fold, it is like the Bulls replaced Mr. Bean with James Bond. Though not the long distance threat they truly needed (Ray Allen), the Bulls now have a guy that can come off screens and hit shots reliably. Unlike human statue Bogans or stand-still shooter Ashton Korver, Hamilton can move very effectively off-ball and is still considered an apt defender.

This Bulls team is built remarkably like the Dallas Mavericks of last June. In Rose, they have a transcendent individual, much like Dirk. But the superstars stop there. The rest of the roster is filled out with specialists and role players, guys like Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Kyle Korver, Taj Gisbon and CJ Watson. The Mavericks made their way to a title with a past his prime Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea and Shawn Marion playing prominent roles, each to perfection.

If the Bulls have any hope of replicating Dallas’ run in June, they must have every single one of their role players at the top of their capabilities. That means Boozer fighting for hard rebounds and making fadeaway jumpers at the elbow; Rip Hamilton coming off of a hard Joakim Noah screen and tearing to the cup; Kyle Korver hitting corner threes with no hesitation; Taj Gibson coming off the bench and providing no indication that Carlos Boozer has left the game; Omer Asik not falling over his own feet; Luol Deng adding to every facet of the game, as Shawn Marion 2.0.

Everything went perfectly for the Mavericks last year, and they were rewarded with a championship. The Bulls, likewise have no margin for error. Ironically, the price that Chicago has to pay for not extending a large contract to Lebron or Wade is demanding complete perfection from 11 guys on the roster. It’s extremely rare that you have a title team led by one star, whose abilities are augmented not by a peer of the same talent, but rather by a cadre of complimentary players. The Bulls have that team. Playing the sheer odds of all those different factors aligning, I’m not sure that Chicago will have enough at the proper time to beat the Heat.

How will this affect the season?

There is one part of basketball (sports, really), that seems to outreach any limitation a team may have in terms of its collecti… Read more...