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Bulls Trade Luol Deng To Cleveland For Draft Picks, Bynum

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 7, 2014 2:30PM

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The current championship window for the Bulls, already narrowed by injuries to Derrick Rose, is now definitively closed with the trade of Luol Deng, the teams most complete player outside of Rose, to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for multiple draft picks and Cavs center Andrew Bynum. It's the biggest sign yet the Bulls are officially in rebuilding mode.

Bynum, who has been suspended indefinitely by Cleveland for conduct detrimental to the team, is expected to be waived by the Bulls before 4 p.m. Tuesday, when the second half of his $12.5 million contract becomes guaranteed. The trade and cutting Bynum save the Bulls nearly $15 million and drop them below the NBA's luxury tax threshold.

The draft picks the Bulls received in the deal include a protected first round pick via the Sacramento Kings. That pick is top-12 protected in 2014, top-10 protected from2015-17 and would become a second round pick if it isn't used by 2017. The Bulls also obtained two second-round picks via the Portland Trail Blazers in 2015 and 2016 and can swap its own 2015 first round draft pick with the Cavs only if the Cleveland 2015 first round draft pick is between 15 and 30.

Deng's agent announced during the offseason that Deng would test the free agent market at the end of the 2013-14 season after Bulls management halted talks on a new contract. Deng rejected a final contract offer last week sources told the Tribune would have paid him $10 million a year over a 3-4 year span. Deng was drafted seventh overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2004 NBA draft and traded to the Bulls. He earned first team All-Rookie honors in the 2004-05 season despite missing 21 games with a wrist injury.

Deng signed a six year, $71 million deal before the 2008-09 season yet never put up numbers commensurate with the money. Still, Deng was among the top two or three players on the Bulls during his tenure, responded to the pressure put on him by coach Tom Thibodeau, played through injury more often than not and earned All-Star nods in 2012 and 2013.

Bulls general manager Gar Forman had nothing but praise for Deng in a statement.

"We have great respect for Luol Deng, as a player and a person. He has been an incredible contributor to our team on the court, and he has also done great things in the community," said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. "On behalf of the entire Bulls organization, I want to thank Luol for his years in Chicago."

Forman added the deal "will put us in a better position to make the entire roster stronger for the future and to compete for a championship."