Well played today John. The move was calculated and astute. When did Walter White start running the Bulls?

In what has become an otherwise empty Bulls season, where for the second straight year there wasn’t much the team could do that would move the needle in town that didn’t involve the words “Derek” & “Rose,” all of a sudden the Bulls are the talk of the NBA.  We’ll in the nerdy circles of the NBA that is.

Late Monday night John Paxon and Gar Foreman pulled the trigger on a deal to send the longest tenured Bull – and all around amazing humanitarian – Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for what amounts to cap space and three future lottery tickets in the draft.

The trade has been discussed in quite some detail by folks much smarter than I in the past 24 hours (Sam Smith at Bulls.com, Nick Freidell at ESPNChicago.com, David Haugh at the Tribune, & Zach Lowe at Grantland to name a few) so I won’t bore you with the details once again.  I think the quote from Paxson says it best in that after determining they didn’t stand a good chance to re-sign Deng (he’s asking for 4 yrs/$60M, the Bulls offered 3/$30M) in July they’re going to be in a better position for having made the trade than in not having done so.  What surprises me is that this organization had the gumption to act upon that reality.

If there’s one thing you can say about a Jerry Reinsdorf led organization it’s that loyalty trumps all.  There’s a reason that Paul Konerko is back on the Southside for a farewell tour of the American League this summer and that same precedence has been set on Madison St. in the past as well.  From retired alumni such as Paxon himself thru Scottie Pippen & Pete Myers, coaches (Doug Collins is too good of friends with Reinsdorf to fill the head coaching vacancy four years ago), and present players such as Kirk Hinrich, once in the Bulls “family” many men have found a home for good.

To be incorporated into that group one must abide by the characteristics the organization looks to embody leadership, sportsmanship, and civic involvement.  Deng has all of that in spades.  The choked back emotion at the dais Monday morning by management and teammates showed exactly how much he meant to this organization.  Thus it’s all the more interesting that this was a pure business decision.

This particular Bulls team came together back during the summer of 2010 when the team swung and missed at the LeBron/Wade/Bosh prize and came up with Carlos Boozer instead.  In many ways that was a microcosm of how these next four years would play out – things went well but just never quite as well as they hoped it would.  They came close with a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in the spring of 2011 (and were on a collision course with the Heat again in 2012) but since Rose fell to the floor in the waning minutes of the opening round Game 1 versus Philadelphia the clock has been ticking on when the rebuild would begin.

It appears that bell has now rung.

The fact that it was coming isn’t news.  Not to toot my own horn but I did kind of call it a year and a half ago.  In fact I’m still pretty committed to the plan I had laid out back then.  I’m just glad that the Bulls agree.

Last year was a bit of an anomaly as the front office knew pretty well that they were looking at an entire season without Rose as they went in and thus they brought scoring guards such as Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson in to fill up the stat sheet.  This season they changed course and built everything entirely around Rose’s return and now here we are.  While it’s fair to say that the 2012-13 Bulls exceeded everyone’s expectation, it’s safe to say we shouldn’t be expecting an encore presentation this time around.

In acquiring $20.6 million in cap space, getting below the luxury tax threshold, and gaining three draft picks (one a first rounder as long as Sacramento gets their act together in the next four years), the Bulls are operating like a business – collecting assets and setting themselves up for the future – rather than a family looking to protect their own.  Deng came from the early Paxson draft classes where the team looked for leaders from winning college programs in an attempt to distance themselves from the high schoolers with upside approach that crashed and burned right at the turn of the century.  This move shows an evolution as an organization.  While not always fun or easy, it’s the right decision in a league getting more competitive both on the floor and in the executive offices.

I haven’t agreed with all of the moves of the GarPax regime here of late (for instance this or this) but making this trade was the right thing to do.  No one knows what the future holds but it’s never wrong to be the guys who sit down at the poker table with the most chips at your disposal.