GM Gar Forman insists roster will be stronger in coming years.
The Chicago Bulls traded Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday and will waive Andrew Bynum to create salary space, but what does the future hold for the franchise?
Speculation has been rife since last summer over the 28-year-old’s long-term future in the Windy City, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.
Derrick Rose’s injury has perhaps speeded up the process of rebuilding with the Bulls, as they will arguably go another year without being a genuine contender for an NBA Championship.
That has left general manager Gar Forman and the entire front office with decisions to make, with some experts suggesting that they effectively ‘tank’ this season, and grab a high spot in the NBA Draft 2014 with a strong looking line-up.
While that doesn’t appear to be on the agenda at this stage with Chicago still fighting for the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, they have begun to make moves off the court to plan ahead for the bigger picture.
Deng will depart which means the Bulls will not have to pay the balance of his $14.3m salary, while the team is expected to waive Bynum on Tuesday evening and clear his $12.3m salary off their books which effectively will see them save in excess of $20m.
There are also rumours surrounding Carlos Boozer’s future with the franchise, with some quarters of the US media suggesting that the Bulls may use the amnesty clause to remove him from the roster too.
In contrast, in terms of arrivals there is genuine excitement over what they could achieve if they strike the right balance between experience and youthful talent.
Real Madrid forward Nikola Mirotic is widely tipped to make the move to Chicago this summer after impressing in Europe, and along with Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose perhaps represents the foundations of this team moving forward.
Nevertheless, with the additional salary cap space and other moves they could make this summer there is the possibility that the Bulls could target a high-profile free agent, with Carmelo Anthony amongst the names linked.
The Bulls have struggled offensively in recent times, and adding a bona fide scorer alongside Rose and the defensive unit could take them to the next level.
Looking ahead further, Chicago have now obtained three future draft picks which they could either use to add depth or search out genuine talent that will make the starting five.
There is uncertainty surrounding coach Tom Thibodeau’s future at the franchise too, but there are various options available and the future perhaps looks a little brighter after Tuesday’s trade deal.
Nevertheless, Forman was grateful for Deng’s contribution to the franchise both on and off the court during his near 10-year stint, and while he will undoubtedly be a loss, it is one that the Bulls are willing to suffer.