The Bulls made an unusual move, trading their leading scorer for a player they waived immediately. But there is some logic behind sending Luol Deng to Cleveland for center Andrew Bynum.
Here's a look at why the Bulls made this deal and what it means for the future of the franchise:
Q: Why did the Bulls do this?
A: Simply put, the Bulls were convinced Deng would leave as a free agent this summer. So instead of losing him for nothing in return, they made this deal now and will add three draft picks, in addition to cutting down their luxury tax bill.
Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson admitted this trade was, in part, a byproduct of Derrick Rose's latest knee injury. If Rose had been healthy, the Bulls probably would have played out the season with the lineup intact.
Paxson also confirmed the Bulls made Deng an offer for a contract extension -- rumored to be $30 million over three years -- which was turned down. He's probably hoping to get something closer to the $54 million over four years that Detroit gave Josh Smith last year.
Q: What draft picks will the Bulls get?
A: They get a conditional first-rounder that belongs to Sacramento, plus second-round picks that belong to Portland in 2015 and '16.
The pick from the Kings is not guaranteed to be a first-rounder, though. It is top-12 protected in 2014 and top-10 protect from 2015-17. If the pick is not conveyed to the Bulls by then, they'll get a 2017 second-round from the Kings.
Essentially, the Bulls will be rooting for Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins to get better. Sacramento now owns the NBA's fourth-worst record, so getting the pick this year is likely out of the question.
For the record, the Bulls will get Charlotte's first-rounder this year if it's not among the top 10 picks. That could happen because if the season ended today, the Bobcats would make the playoffs.
If the Sacramento improves drastically, Charlotte drops out of the playoff race and the Bulls fade, they could have 3 picks in the top 15 this year, but that's a long shot.
Q: Should we be surprised this happened?
A: A little. We've said all along the Bulls were open to trading Deng, but knew it would be difficult to find a deal that worked. There is no guarantee Deng will stay in Cleveland when he becomes a free agent this summer, so the Cavs are taking a risk. Also, Bynum's unusual contract gave the Bulls a rare chance to move Deng without taking any salary back in return.
Q: Is Tom Thibodeau ticked off about losing Deng?
A: He's not thrilled about it, but he knows the Bulls' situation better than anyone. He wants to win a championship and knows there could be a long-term benefit. In the short-term, it stinks.
"We'll deal with it," Thibodeau said Tuesday. "I'm not conceding anything. We're getting ready for tonight."
Thibodeau didn't want to discuss whether he agreed or disagreed with the Deng trade, but talked about the process.
"Sometimes things may not go your way, but you have to be professional about it, move forward," he said. "There are a lot of decisions that get made. As long as you have your input, that's all you can ask for. Everyone has to do their job. My job is to coach the guys that are here."
Paxson said this: "Look, it's not realistic to ask Tom or his staff to be happy about taking a player of Lu's caliber off your team. We know what he's facing."
Q: Is this the start of a Bulls' rebuilding plan?
A: Not necessarily. Assuming they use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer this summer, they're still moving forward with a pretty good nucleus of (hopefully) Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell. They're hoping to sign Real Madrid forward Nikola Mirotic -- widely considered the best young player in Europe -- this summer. They've got extra draft picks and the ability to add more medium-priced players for depth.
"You don't rebuild when you have a coach like Tom. We're going in a different direction," Paxson said.
Q: How much money did the Bulls save?
A: Roughly $8 million in salary and about $12 million in luxury tax. The injury-plagued Bynum signed a $12.3 million deal with the Cavaliers last year, but only $6 million was guaranteed if he was waived by Tuesday. He was waived immediately by the Bulls. This moves puts the Bulls below the luxury tax threshold, but Paxson conceded they may not stay there.
Q: Is Rose OK with this?
A: Not that it really matters, but as much as Rose will miss Deng he'll be happy down the road if he gets more scoring help.
"Our communication with Derrick has never led us to believe that," Paxson said of potential Rose unhappiness.
Q: Is Deng upset about the botched spinal tap that knocked him out of last season's playoffs?
A: Tough to say. Paxson said Tuesday he apologized to Deng for not realizing the gravity of the situation and being more attentive to his plight. The Bulls sent their team doctors to Brooklyn and Miami for the playoffs while Deng was home struggling with the loss of spinal fluid.
Paxson does think it was necessary for Deng to have the spinal tap, because he was showing symptoms of meningitis. As it turned out, Deng didn't have the disease.
Q: Are more moves coming?
A: Maybe. It's unlikely the Bulls could move Boozer without taking a hefty salary in return, so he'll probably stay. Kirk Hinrich has been mentioned as trade bait, with interest from Golden State, but his contract is expiring so the only benefit to the Bulls would be helping stay under the luxury tax. Mike Dunleavy signed a two-year deal last summer, so he's likely to be shopped.