CLEVELAND – The Cavaliers are living in the present, but keeping an eye on the future.
General manager Chris Grant traded embattled center Andrew Bynum and three future draft picks to the Chicago Bulls late Monday night for two-time All-Star small forward Luol Deng.
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Deng, 28, is averaging a career-high 19.0 points on .452 shooting, 6.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He is earning $14.3 million in the final year of his contract, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and has missed nine games due to injury.
Cleveland gave up its rights to the first-round pick it got from Sacramento in the J.J. Hickson-Omri Casspi deal in 2011, but there’s a chance that selection may never be in the first round. It is top-10 protected for the Kings in 2014 and top-10 protected in 2015 and ’16. If it hasn’t been conveyed to the Bulls by then, it becomes a second-round choice in 2017.
The Bulls, who were expected to waive Bynum on Tuesday to avoid paying him the final $6 million he is owed this season and avoid paying the luxury tax, are going into rebuild-mode with point guard Derrick Rose out for the season with a knee injury.
Chicago will have the option of exchanging first-round picks with the Cavs in 2015, but only if Cleveland’s pick is between Nos. 15 and 30.
The Bulls also got second-round picks in 2015 and ’16 that the Cavs acquired from Portland in a 2013 draft night trade.
“We have worked to acquire and maintain flexibility in order to capitalize on opportunities such as this,” Grant said in a press release. “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 floor with a team-first mentality and is a high-character leader.”
Deng has been an All-Star the last two seasons and was a second-team All-Defensive pick in 2012. He also received the NBA Sportsmanship Award in 2007.
Deng, who has scored at least 20 points 10 times this season, was originally drafted by Phoenix with the seventh pick in 2004. He had spent his entire career with the Bulls and owns career averages of 16.1 points on .460 shooting, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Deng has appeared in 48 playoff games (42 starts) with averages of 16.7 points on .452 shooting, 7.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists.