ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports that the Washington Wizards were exploring a trade with the Chicago Bulls that would potentially send Luol Deng to Washington in exchange for Emeka Okafor and the No. 3 overall pick, but Michael Lee of the Washington Post provided another perspective:
In his written report, Lee further elaborated, writing, "The Wizards have had discussions with several teams but the team still intends to make a selection Thursday, according to another league source."
Washington would be foolish to consider dealing their top pick for Deng.
No knock against the veteran swingman, but the Wizards would be much smarter to just select one of the top small forwards in this year's draft class with the No. 3 overall pick.
Deng will be in the final year of his current contract during the 2013-2014 season, and he's set to earn $14.275 million, according to Spotrac.com. In his 10 years as a pro, Deng has proved to be a rock-solid player on both ends of the court, but he's no superstar.
Sporting averages of 16 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and one steal per game as a pro, Deng isn't a prolific scorer and is heading toward the twilight of his career.
For a fraction of the cost, Washington could potentially land either Otto Porter or Victor Oladipo while retaining Okafor.
The big man has never truly lived up to the hype surrounding him when he was the second player selected in 2004, and his numbers have precipitously fallen in recent years. That said, Okafor will be an unrestricted free agent after this upcoming season, and he is still a capable interior defender.
It just doesn't make any sense for Washington to give up Okafor and the No. 3 pick for a 10-year veteran when the team could land one of the NBA's brightest stars.
Thankfully, Washington appears to realize this truth. With John Wall, Bradley Beal and one of the top small forwards in the 2013 draft class, the Wizards have a chance to feature one of the NBA's top young rosters in the years to come.
Once Okafor's contract runs out, the team could either negotiate a new deal that fits with its salary-cap situation or simply draft another big man in 2014. Either way, this is a scenario that makes much more sense than making a trade for an aging player in Deng.
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