Cleveland: Britain`s Luol Deng, an NBA All-Star forward, was traded by the Chicago Bulls to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday in a deal for Andrew Bynum and draft picks, the teams announced.
Deng, a 28-year-old playmaker born in what is now South Sudan, has averaged a career-best 19.0 points in 23 starts for the Bulls this season, also grabbing 6.9 rebounds and making 3.7 assists a game and connecting on 45.2 percent of his shots from the court.
Deng would have become a free agent at the end of the season. A leading newspaper reported he had rejected an extension with the Bulls worth $10 million (7.35m euros) a year for three or four seasons.
The Cavaliers sent Chicago three future NBA Draft picks and the right to swap 2015 first-round draft picks with Cleveland as well as center Bynum, who was released before Tuesday`s deadline to have the second half of his $12.3 million deal become guaranteed, setting the stage for him to become a free agent.
The move saved the Bulls, who have already lost star Derrick Rose for the season to a knee injury, more than $10 million in luxury tax payouts and gives them more chances at top young talent in the draft for long-term rebuilding.
"The moves made today will put us in a better position to make the entire roster stronger for the future and to compete for a championship," said Bulls general manager Gar Forman.
For the Cavaliers, it will combine Deng with 21-year-old Australian-born star guard Kyrie Irving to make Cleveland more formidable in a weak Eastern Conference.
"We are very excited for Luol to join the Cavaliers organization," said Chris Grant, the team`s general manager.
"Luol reflects all that we are striving for in building our team. He`s a tremendous defensive player that can impact the game on both ends of the court with a `team first` mentality and is a high character leader."
The Bulls obtained the first-round pick in this year`s NBA Draft of Sacramento, which the Cavaliers had owned from a 2011 trade, as well as Portland`s second round picks in the 2015 and 2016 NBA Draft, obtained by Cleveland from the Trail Blazers last year.
Deng was taken seventh overall by Phoenix in the 2004 NBA Draft but has spent his entire nine-year NBA career with the Bulls, averaging 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists and 1.0 steal over 637 career regular-season games.
"We have great respect for Luol Deng as a player and a person," Forman said. "He has been an incredible contributor to our team on the court and he has also done great things in the community. I want to thank Luol for his years in Chicago."
Bynum had been suspended indefinitely on full pay by the Cavaliers on December 28 for conduct detrimental to the team. The 7-footer has averaged only 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds a game this season.