By Danny Moran
Rumors have swirled about the Chicago Bulls parting with Luol Deng since the team was shockingly eliminated in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers.
A report now has the Golden State Warriors as a potential Deng suitor. While the report notes that the Warriors have not yet contacted the Bulls about Deng, talks are expected to develop closer to Thursdays NBA Draft.
While Deng has been perhaps Chicagos most valuable player behind Derrick Rose over the past couple seasons, parting with the All-Star small forward may be necessary to give the team some salary cap relief.
Deng has two years left on his contract that will pay him over 27 million. He will be the third-highest paid player on the roster, behind Rose and Carlos Boozer, since Roses five-year, 94.8 million contract extension will kick in next season. With Joakim Noah included, the Bulls will have four players on their roster making over 11 million per year next season.
According to the report, the Bulls would most likely have to take on the contract of either small forward Richard Jefferson (21.2 milliontwo years) or center Andris Biedrins (18 milliontwo years). Each players deal runs through 2014.
The NBAs rookie salary scale would have the No. 7 pick earning 2,331,700. The combination of Jefferson or Biedrins with the draft pick will be less than Dengs contract alone. There also remains the possibility of a contract buyout for either Warrior player.
It is not immediately clear who the Bulls would target with the No. 7 pick. Much would likely depend on which Warriors player they would receive in the deal.
One option is selecting a point guard to fill in for the injured Derrick Rose. Weber States Damian Lillard is widely regarded as the best point guard in the draft and he is expected to be available at that selection. He is a score-first point guard with measurements similar to Rose (6-foot-3 height, 6-foot-8 wingspan, nearly 40-inch vertical). He could be a cheaper option than bringing back C.J. Watson or signing another free agent, such as veterans Steve Nash or Jason Kidd.