Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cavs Pull Off Blockbuster Trade, Acquire Luol Deng for Bynum

Posted by on Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 9:03 AM

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Late last night, the Cavs acquired all-star small forward Luol Deng from the Chicago Bulls for Andrew Bynum and draft picks. The trade ends a period of rumor and speculation surrounding Bynum after he was suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team" on December 27.

Word on the street was that Bynum was lazy during practices and combative with coach Mike Brown, on more than one occasion being asked to leave practice for arguing with Brown. The Bulls are expected to immediately waive Bynum for the cash savings. The second half of his paycheck this year is non-guaranteed if he's waived by today.

For the Cavs, this is an important step forward. Deng's contract is up at the end of the year, but he's a valuable player, a guy who's scoring 19 points a game this year and defends as well as all but a few elite guys in the league. Here's a commitment from Gilbert and the front-office that they care about the present. They took a gamble on Bynum (which no one would have maligned at all if he'd returned to even a semblance of his former self) and they structured the content to do as little damage as possible. Now they're maximizing the return on investment.

Grant, though his first-round picks have been questionable, certainly has assembled a nice arsenal of assets for moments like this:

"We have worked to acquire and maintain flexibility in order to capitalize on opportunities such as this," Cavs general manager Chris Grant told ESPN. "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 shipped a protected 2014 first-round pick that the Cavs had acquired from Sacramento and two second-round picks (2015, '16) that they'd acquired from Portland. Grant & co. are still positioned well for next year's stocked draft, with two additional second-round picks for potential wheeling and dealing.

Bottom-line: Deng will make this team a lot better. He's a shooter. He's a leader. He's an impactful defensive presence.

At this point, he's a rental. Keeping him in Cleveland will be a challenge this summer, but Grant can cross that bridge when he comes to it. At this point, playoffs are the name of the game.

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