May 22, 2011; Miami, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng (9) reacts in the forth quarter against the Miami Heat during game three of the 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Bustin' My Bulls: The Pick or The Player?

With the NBA Draft just about a week away, trade rumours are buzzing all around Chicago and almost all of them involve trading Luol Deng for a lottery pick in the 5-10 range. We all know what the craziness of draft night entails. Last year the Bulls – predictably – came out pretty untouched. This year, things are looking different and the front office seems to be much more involved. I’m here to tell you guys why the Bulls need to get in on some of the action and let Lu go.

Harrison Barnes is a guy that the Bulls very well could select to replace Deng should they trade into the Draft Lottery.

Let me start off by saying this: I love Luol Deng. He’s a team player, he understands his limitations, he can mix it up a little on offense and he can shut down your favourite player defensively. He plays with heart, he’s tenacious but always manages to keep his head on straight at the same time.

That said, he can’t create his own shot, he’s a poor ball-handler, he’s not a true second option and most importantly, he’s probably peaked. Deng has spent four of the past seasons dealing with injury issues and though his 2010 campaign was encouraging, it was an anomaly. With an off-season surgery coming up after the Olympics, chances are that Luol will continue to struggle in that department. The Bulls need to strike while the iron is hot, because his value will never be so high again.

In my honest opinion, the Bulls, constructed the way they are right now — especially with Derrick Rose’s future ability in question — are fringe contenders. The reason they win a ton of regular season games is because they have a win-or-die intensity that isn’t matched until the playoffs come along. We saw them struggle more than they should have in the first two rounds last year before the Heat dismantled them and this year’s first round knock-out, despite the loss of their MVP, was a lot uglier than we would have predicted. At best, they’re the 2004 Pistons or the 2006 Miami Heat.

A team that might win it all depending on their surroundings but won’t ever have control of its destiny. Best case scenario if the Bulls pull the trigger? They keep the team young and pair Rose with a super-star and true second option.

Worst case scenario, Chicago trades Deng and the pick ends up being a bust. What happens then?

The Bulls probably remain right where they are… fringe contenders, albeit a little more mediocre. Deng or no Deng, the Bulls are better than the Pacers and worse than the Heat. Almost every Bulls fan would hate to see Deng in another uniform but Chicago owes too much salary to players that aren’t worth the price. No one is giving them anything back for Carlos Boozer and there’s no way the Bulls are trading Noah.

The only difference between being the type of contender the Bulls are right now and the way they’d be in this scenario is that it hurts more to lose when you have a better chance at winning.

Of course, any time you’re talking about trading a proven NBA talent for an unproven prospect, the risks are high. But what’s the alternative? Watching the Bulls get stomped on by the Miami Heat for the next five years? No thank you. It’s becoming more and more clear that this is a superstars league. Out in the Western conference, the Thunder beat the Spurs four games straight to get to the finals. We’re talking about a team that was dead last in assists during the regular season dismantling the San Antonio Spurs, the perfect example of a team.

All things considered, here is the situation we’re looking at: a front office that is good at drafting and making trades is in a position to trade high and draft a lottery pick in the most loaded draft since 2008. Whether or not Derrick Rose comes back better, worse or the same… he needs help and that’s what someone like Bradley Beal, Jeremy Lamb or Austin Rivers would bring.

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