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Should the Chicago Bulls Trade Luol Deng or Joakim Noah?

Updated on May 19, 2013
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The 2012-2013 NBA season was a wild ride featuring huge highs, horrible lows and a fan base gaining a deeper appreciation for how resilient and tough their team is. The Bulls didn't have enough healthy bodies to beat the Miami Heat. Derrick Rose never found the right moment to return from his knee injury. Kirk Hinrich couldn't get over a lingering calf problem. Even a bout of illness struck the team at the worst possible time. Yet they still made the defending champions work for their victories. The question that lay ahead now though isn't about what was lost. It's about who will stay.

The Goners

Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli
Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli | Source

It's a sad reality for Chicago heading into the off-season. The surprise success of their latest reincarnation of the Bench Mob remains bittersweet since the group will likely split due to steep salary cap issues. Tiny spark plug Nate Robinson who played a pivotal role in the teams' impressive playoff run showed his value as a scorer and performer in the clutch. That virtually guarantees a team will offer him a multi-year contract, instantly making him too expensive. The same goes for Marco Belinelli who showed his offensive prowess off the bench, not to mention some surprise improvement on defense. His price figures to go higher than the veteran minimum. That should scare the Bulls away from bringing him back. Aside from that most of the other bubble players like Nazr Mohammad, Vladimir Rodmanovich, Rip Hamilton and Daequan Cook all figure to hit the market.

Carlos Boozer

Source

Chicago fans have already pulled out their "Amnesty" signs for Boozer. What makes that so unfortunate is the veteran power forward actually had a really good year. He was the primary source of offense for the team, didn't miss any games and showed great leadership alongside Noah and Deng. The problem is the contract he signed was way too expensive and it has handcuffed the Bulls ever since. Using the amnesty clause to buy it out sounds logical so the team could gain some breathing space but it isn't realistic. Chicago would still have to pay Boozer the rest of his contract which amounts to $28 million. Considering Jerry Reinsdorf only just paid the luxury tax for the first time since buying the Bulls, it's likely he won't give away that amount of cash for nothing in return. The best the team could hope for is clearing enough space next year to sign a mid-level contract. Those don't usually make the difference between challenger and champion. Boozer, for his faults, averaged 16 points and nine rebounds this season. While he is overpriced, the Bulls are better off keeping him for one more year.

The T word

NBA Trade Machine
NBA Trade Machine | Source

Unlike baseball and football, trades are a regular thing in the NBA. Not even superstars are above getting dealt if certain requirements are met. Dwight Howard left for Los Angeles this season. Chris Paul departed New Orleans for the Clippers. Only the very best tend to stick around on the same team for the bulk of a career (LeBron James references aside). That is why nobody should feel comfortable about the futures of Luol Deng and Joakim Noah in Chicago. There is no doubt they were two of the biggest reasons why the Bulls competed so well this season. Their All-Star selections were clear evidence. However, a lot of things are beginning to work against them sticking on the roster.

First is obviously price. Together they will count over $26 million against the salary cap next season. The second part, which makes the first part worse, is health. Though only 28-years old, neither has made it through an entire season with some sort of injury or ailment. Deng played the full season with a banged up wrist and finished it in a hospital bed with some sort of flu. Noah suffers from chronic plantar fasciitis in his foot, making him a risk in spite of his ability on defense and rebounding.

If Chicago will ever have a chance to get value from them in a trade it is this year. Noah showed his toughness and ability to carry a team in the Nets series. Deng is already a proven defender whose shooting ability has improved the past few seasons. The Bulls would have to find a team in need of their particular talents with enough money to absorb their current contracts. Atlanta and Cleveland are two teams that come to mind as outside shots. Still the likelihood is minimal.

This season proved the Chicago Bulls are more than the sum of their parts. While the roster will look different next season the core they still have in place deserves one more year to get it right. Noah and Deng aren't going anywhere, and fans shouldn't cry about it.

Which Bulls player is the most likely to get traded?

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    • EJ Lambert profile imageAUTHOR

      EJ Lambert 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I would say Korver and Belinelli improved their defense fairly well in their time under Thibodeau. Also, you can't discount how Butler improved his offensive game this year. Hardaway is inconsistent, but he has offensive potential already. His athleticism will make him a great defender if he accepts the necessary teaching, especially if Thibs gets a hold of him.

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 

      5 years ago from Texas

      That's the Bulls problem, get get athletic guards that can defend but cant shoot.....or pure shooters who cant defend...i.e....Belinelli, Korver last season. Cant we find guards that can do both? Hardaway Jr. is a good athlete, but his shot is very inconsistent.

    • EJ Lambert profile imageAUTHOR

      EJ Lambert 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Based on what Forman has done the past couple drafts with Butler and Teague it's clear he prefers good athletes from proven programs like Marquette and Kentucky. So keep an eye on the athletic guards coming out of big schools. Tim Hardaway Jr. of Michigan is certainly an option.

    • dontaytte profile image

      dontaytte 

      5 years ago from Palos Hills

      I hope we can get an athletic shooting guard as well as an athletic center

    • EJ Lambert profile imageAUTHOR

      EJ Lambert 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      I can only imagine what will happen when Thibs can throw Deng and Butler at LeBron in waves. I believe the Bulls will target an athletic shooting guard in the draft. There is a big selection so their chances are good.

    • dontaytte profile image

      dontaytte 

      5 years ago from Palos Hills

      I didn't like Deng until the last couple of years, but he is great against Lebron. I would love to see us get some more speed to run with Rose in the transition.

    • EJ Lambert profile imageAUTHOR

      EJ Lambert 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      That would be my decision as well. Deng is a solid player to have, but his offensive game disappears too often,

    • dontaytte profile image

      dontaytte 

      5 years ago from Palos Hills

      Trade Deng not Noah. Noah brings the energy and passion to the team. He's a good passer, shot block, and rebounder.

    • EJ Lambert profile imageAUTHOR

      EJ Lambert 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thanks, Emil. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • EJ Lambert profile imageAUTHOR

      EJ Lambert 

      5 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Thanks. The way I look at it is we still have the best defense in basketball even with Boozer in the lineup. So why not keep the potential for double-doubles every game? I would love to keep Robinson so he can come in to spell Rose but there is no way another team is not giving him a better deal. Barring that, if I'm Gar Forman I'm seeking out scorers wherever I can find them. If it's at shooting guard, fine. However, I wouldn't question them if they went after a center in the draft either. I love Joakim. He's a great leader and has gotten a lot better. He just can't stay healthy. We need a backup plan in place if he takes a turn for the worse.

    • emilgen2011 profile image

      Gener and Emily Geminiano 

      5 years ago from The Land Where Salt is Abundant

      Great hub... I learned a lot from your writing as sports writing is my cup of tea... Going to thread through your other hubs as well... Thanks!

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 

      5 years ago from Texas

      Great Hub EJ.....If you write anything about the Bulls, Bears, or White Sox, you will have my attention, lol. Its my Chicago blood. I definitely do not think the Bulls should trade neither Noah or Deng. Those to along with Rose are the nucleus of the Bulls. They are young and should build around them. I like Boozer, but his defense is so weak, he has to go, and will open up a lot of money for free agents/trades. I would actually keep Nate Robinson, he's cheap,and even if the Bulls sign a scoring 2 guard, they will still need some scoring off the bench.

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