CHICAGO (CBSMiami) – The Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers shook up the Eastern Conference late Monday when the teams agreed to a trade sending center Andrew Bynum to the Bulls in exchange for small forward Luol Deng.
The Bulls will waive Bynum before 5 p.m. Tuesday which will save the team $15 million this season and pull the squad under the luxury tax. At that point, Bynum will become a free agent able to sign with any team he chooses.
Bynum had been suspended from team activities in Cleveland for detrimental conduct. He has been a shell of his former self and played in just 24 games this season and none last season. This year, Bynum has averaged 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game when he has been on the court.
Just two years ago, Bynum was a growing star in Los Angeles before the team had enough of his attitude and decided to move on from him as part of the Dwight Howard trade. Bynum continued to show attitude this season and said publicly he wasn’t sure if he wanted to keep playing basketball.
His knees and other injuries have kept Bynum from reaching his potential, despite being just 26-years-old and a former All-Star.
The Cavaliers will have Deng through at least the end of the season. He becomes a free agent at that point and will likely ask for a max or near max extension from any team looking to sign him long-term.
With Deng in the fold, the Cavaliers have the makings of a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland will send out a lineup including Kyrie Irving at the point, C.J. Miles at shooting guard, Deng at small forward, Tristan Thompson at power forward, and Anderson Vaejao at center.
Deng averaged 16.5 points, 3 assists, and 6.3 rebounds per game last season.
What this trade means for the Heat remains to be seen. The Heat have taken on players who have struggled in other cities with immaturity, Michael Beasley, and turned them into a solid role player thanks to the Heat’s no nonsense locker room.
The Heat signed Oden in the offseason hoping he could rehab his knees enough to be a contributor come playoff time this year. Oden hasn’t played in a regular season game yet and it’s unknown how his rehab from multiple knee injuries is coming.
Theoretically, if Bynum could be kept in check by the Heat locker room and give the Heat a few minutes a game per night in the playoffs; he might be worth a flier.
However, the Heat would have to release a player in order to sign Bynum if he made it through waivers for the Heat to have a chance at him.