Luol Deng could be on the trading block as the Chicago Bulls once again are gauging interest in their veteran forward heading into Thursday's NBA Draft, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. Sources told Stein that the Washington Wizards have engaged in exploratory talks with Chicago.
The Wizards have discussed sending the third overall pick in the draft to the Bulls in exchange for Deng. Washington could include center Emeka Okafor in the deal to make the salary figures line up, though for the deal to work Okafor would have to be coaxed into picking up a $14.5 million option on his contract.
Long expected to have interest in drafting small forward Otto Porter, the Wizards could instead trade for the battle-tested Deng to pair with a young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Meanwhile, Chicago could get younger and open the small forward spot for rising swingman Jimmy Butler, who proved himself in a playoff run by defending Miami Heat MVP LeBron James.
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert also reportedly has interest in acquiring Deng. Gilbert has maintained he wants to construct a playoff team sooner rather than later, and Deng would fit right into a younger team that lacks a wing scorer.
None of the talks have gotten into serious territory as Chicago determines Deng's value, but that could change with the draft looming.