The Los Angeles Lakers are likely to receive a phone call from the Minnesota Timberwolves soon. The same can be said about the Chicago Bulls. If so, expect the NBA trade rumors to heat up among these three teams. The Bulls and Lakers have something that the Timberwolves want — former Tom Thibodeau players.
It is possible that the Lakers and Timberwolves have already talked. The possibility of the Timberwolves calling the Bulls are also high. And the likely possible topic of discussion, asides from the pleasantries, would the Lakers be willing to trade Luol Deng to Minnesota? Would the Bulls be interested in dealing Jimmy Butler or Taj Gibson?
Of all the NBA trade rumors to circulate, the one involving a potential reunion taking place in Minnesota is tantalizing. Especially since it includes two charter NBA franchises, possibly a third, and a young upstart team. The NBA trade rumors surrounding the Bulls, Lakers and Timberwolves leaves a couple of untouchable players, most notably Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns.
Asides from everything thing else, depending how bad the Timberwolves want to get something done, a trade could happen with the Lakers in a couple of weeks, or with the Bulls sooner rather than later.
Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher posted on Twitter about how Minnesota president and head coach Tom Thibodeau might be losing patience in his young Timberwolves’ team. Thibodeau, former coach of the Chicago Bulls likes to have players that he trusts. NBC Sports took Bucher’s tweet and interpreted that the Timberwolves will be looking at trading one of his young players for one of his former Bulls’ players.
That means either current Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, along with Los Angeles Lakers’ forward Luol Deng would be the players Thibodeau would go after. The Lakers and Bulls will be receiving a lot of phone calls regarding players who were coached by Tom Thibodeau.
There is some process of elimination that could be had with the NBA trade rumors involving the Bulls, Lakers and Timberwolves. It is easy to narrow things down. Some sensible decisions must be made by Thibodeau, allowing reasonable judgment to kick in at some point.
Unless Thibodeau is willing to give up young Timberwolves’ star Andrew Wiggins and one of the players from the trio of Kris Dunn, Gorgui Dieng, and Zach LaVine, there is zero chance of getting the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler. That leaves the Bulls’ Taj Gibson and Lakers’ Luol Deng as the most realistic possibilities to get dealt to the Timberwolves.
Yahoo Sports is hedging their bets that if the Minnesota Timberwolves were to trade for one of Thibodeau’s former players, Gibson is the most logical acquisition. Getting Deng from the Lakers is also ideal, but it cost be somewhat costly.
The Lakers have to wait until mid-December, actually December 15 (according to cbafaq.com) before they can contemplate trading Luol Deng. That is because of the four-year, $72 million contract the Lakers gave the two-time all-star. Waiting around for three weeks until the Lakers can complete a deal might not sit well with the Timberwolves. Tom Thibodeau may want to act immediately.
Plus, the Timberwolves would have to offer the Lakers something close to equal salary in exchange for Luol Deng. Would the Lakers be interested in receiving Nikola Pekovic and a second round draft pick for Deng? Not a chance! The Timberwolves also are not going to offer the Lakers potential 20-point scorers in the aforementioned Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine. Ricky Rubio for Luol Deng is not a desirable trade for either the Lakers or Timberwolves. This is where things hit a snag between the Lakers and Timberwolves.
Nemanja Bjelica and Gorgui Dieng could also be dealt to the Lakers, but that leaves a problem — matching Luol Deng’s salary will not be easy, without the inclusion of a first round pick. There is no doubt the Lakers would take a first-rounder from the Timberwolves for Deng. It just is not feasible for the Timberwolves to offer it. Even with Deng in tow Minnesota could be lottery-bound. Do not anticipate them handing the Lakers a potential lottery pick as compensation for Deng, a solid player, who is starting to decline.
The Timberwolves would be stuck with Deng for three more seasons because of the contract the Lakers gave him. And since the Lakers paid him so much guaranteed money, they cannot just give him away. The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement dictates as such.
Not to dismiss the Los Angeles Lakers, but that could eliminate them as a trade partner. This elevates the Chicago Bulls as the team most likely to deal with the Timberwolves.
Taj Gibson has a more manageable contract, which is around $9 million. The Bulls’ power forward is also a free agent at the end of the season. That could make him more desirable to the Timberwolves.
Unlike having to match the $18 million in salary of the Lakers in a trade for Luol Deng, the Timberwolves could get a more productive player from the Bulls. Gibson can also come in and start right away. Deng would likely be one of the first players off the Timberwolves’ bench.
As the next few days go by, there will be more leaked information regarding this NBA trade rumor involving the Los Angeles Lakers possibly tradimg Luol Deng to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Because there are too many obstacles to make a deal happen, it seems unrealistic. If the Timberwolves strike a deal for a former Tom Thibodeau player, the Chicago Bulls present the most feasible option.
More complications could come in if the New York Knicks want to give Joakim Noah away. The Knicks may not be deterred by taking on a contract like Nikola Pekovic’s. Additional competition for the Lakers could come from the New Orleans Pelicans, as E’Twaun Moore is also a Tom Thibodeau player.
Simply put, the Los Angeles Lakers trading Luol Deng to the Minnesota Timberwolves is far from a sure thing. Especially if the Chicago Bulls are offered Gorgui Dieng.
[Featured Image by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images]