Wittman: We can't feel sorry for ourselves
There's some shifting going on in the Eastern Conference, and when the Wizards face the Chicago Bulls on Monday at United Center they'll look different.
Luol Deng, two-time All-Star forward who hadn't received the max extension he wanted from the Bulls in his 10th season, won't be there.
"We have great respect for Luol Deng, as a player and a person. He has been an incredible contributor to our team on the court, and he has also done great things in the community," said Gar Forman, Bulls general manager in a statement. "On behalf of the entire Bulls organization, I want to thank Luol for his years in Chicago."
Andrew Bynum, acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers, was released Tuesday and now is a free agent. The move helps the Bulls clear out room under the salary cap, as much as $15 million, because Bynum's contract wasn't fully guaranteed. While Bynum loses money in the transaction because he won't get anywhere near $12.5 million per he had in his two-year deal with Cleveland, he can find a home with a championship-caliber team such as Miami Heat, who have shown interest among others.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert posted from his Twitter account to confirm the deal: "Welcome @LuolDeng9 to the Cavaliers!"
The move solidifies Cleveland (11-23), which has been in turmoil all season and recently suspended Bynum indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. The Cavs have lost 10 of their last 12 games. They'd been starting journeyman Earl Clark at Deng's position of small forward. Tristan Thompson starts at power forward.
The Bulls (14-18) also received multiple draft picks in the deal. They've won five of their last seven games despite not having Derrick Rose, who is out for the season with a right knee injury, but won't be able to sustain over the duration of the season given their roster.
The Cavaliers sent them three draft choices and the right to their 2015 first-round pick but it is protected.
"The moves made today will put us in a better position to make the entire roster stronger for the future and to compete for a championship,” said Forman.