Bulls forward Luol Deng can breathe a sigh of relief. It's likely that Deng just became the richest Dinka to ever live, as the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson is reporting that Deng agreed to a 6-year contract worth up to $80M late Tuesday night.
General manager John Paxson will confirm Wednesday that the Bulls have reached agreement on a six-year deal with restricted free agent Luol Deng.So with right around $8M left without going into the forbidden land of the luxury tax, the Bulls now have the task of figuring out what to do with guard Ben Gordon.
The deal, first reported by the Tribune and ESPN.com's Marc Stein, is worth a guaranteed $71 million, according to sources. Incentives could push the contract's value to $80 million, sources said.
Deng, 23, rejected a five-year, $57.5 million extension in October and then joined in the season-long funk and malaise that shrouded the Bulls' underwhelming 2007-08 season.
A lot of talk is going on - including Ben's threats that he might jump on the overseas bandwagon and play in Europe - but it appears that the Bulls will most likely try some sort of sign-and-trade with the streaky shooting guard.
Gordon appears to believe he deserves money equal to what Deng received, but not only would that put the Bulls over the cap, they'd be locking up a lot of money that could be used in the 2010 free agent sweepstakes. $80M to Ben Gordon would be a big mistake, there are plenty of undersized guards out there at a much lower price.
The question is, where could Gordon go in a sign-and-trade? Right now your guess is as good as anyone, but I'd be willing to be bet that if they do make a deal, a center will be coming back to the Bulls way.
If they don't trade Gordon, the Bulls can tender a one-year $6.4M deal that would allow Gordon to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2008-09 season. This is not something that's advantageous for either Gordon or the Bulls, but it may be the last resort if they fail to trade him.
All things Gordon aside, with Deng locked in for the long haul, the starting lineup is a promising combination of youthful explosiveness and veteran talent, and hopefully will only get better with pieces added before the start of the season.
G Derrick Rose
G Kirk Hinrich
F Luol Deng
F Tyrus Thomas
C Joakim Noah