The agent of Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng said that the two-time All-Star will explore free agency options after this upcoming season. The Bulls and Deng according to reports have stopped all talks on a contract extension until after seasons end. Deng, 28, is entering the final year of his six-year, $71 million deal with the team.
Deng has averaged 16.0 points and 6.4 rebounds over his nine year career and has been a staple of consistency for the Bulls. For this reason and many others, it’s hard to fathom that the Bulls would let Deng walk and explore free agency. The Bulls may be stalling to further secure their team financially through other deals to make room for a long-term commitment to Deng, but it’s hard to tell.
The Bulls may be concerned with Deng’s health in the long run after spinal tap complications that forced him to miss the last seven games of their playoff run last season and essentially put his life in danger.
If the Bulls were to part ways with Deng, one would imagine it would be via trade. Dealing Deng would muster a rather large return rate (this offseason there were rumors Deng could be dealt to the Washington Wizards for Emeka Okafor and the No. 3 pick in the draft). Deng has too much value to let walk and don’t expect the Bulls to let that happen.
But if it did, the Detroit Pistons should be very interested in Deng’s services.
The Pistons have revamped their roster with big(ger) named talent, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to work.
The team will have a lot of floor spacing issues to deal with and a crowded frontcourt. Josh Smith will see a lot of minutes at the small forward slot and that could hurt the team if he takes his usual bad shots at his usual low shooting percentage (especially from three).
Much of the Pistons success this season will ride on the maturation of Smith’s game and how often he will need to play at the three. The Pistons don’t really have a pure, utility-like small forward on their roster like Deng. Deng has a really solid all-around game, like Smith, but shoots the ball at much more efficient rate.
It’s not likely that the Pistons would even debate letting Smith go, yet they should think about using him full time at the power forward spot. If that’s the case, the future of Greg Monroe may be up in the air. Monroe, like Deng, is entering the last year of his current deal and will be a restricted free agent. Monroe’s agent has also said that talks of an extension with the team won’t happen until July of 2014.
Monroe is often rumored as a trade chip and more so now after the acquisitions of Smith and guard Brandon Jennings. It would be interesting if the Central Division foes would consider a potential deal involving these two players, but it seems highly unlikely.
Deng could really fit what the Pistons should be looking for from the small forward position: size, skill, shooting ability, consistency and most importantly, a defensive ace.
The Pistons have a lot to be excited about and look forward to this upcoming season, but they should keep the idea of Deng in a Pistons uniform in mind as a distinct possibility.