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Bulls’ Luol Deng is a chip on old block, but he’s not headed to Wizards

Bulls forward Luol Deng was selected for his first NBA All-Star Game. | Tom Cruze/Sun-Times

Bulls forward Luol Deng was selected for his first NBA All-Star Game. | Tom Cruze/Sun-Times

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Updated: June 24, 2013 11:07PM



Bulls forward Luol Deng could be used as a trading chip this offseason, but moving him to the Washington Wizards for the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft and Emeka Okafor’s expiring contract was categorized by a source as ‘‘entertaining talk that happens this time of year.’’

In other words, this trade isn’t happening.

Deng, a free agent after the 2013-14 season, will make $14.3 million in what could be his last season with the Bulls, and after making back-to-back All-Star appearances, his stock never has been higher.

There has been speculation that the Bulls would look to move Deng to get out of the luxury-tax area and to start adding new talent.

The 6-9 Deng is coming off a season in which he averaged 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and three assists, and he led the NBA in minutes per game.

In nine seasons, Deng, 28, has emerged as one of the top defensive players in the league.

Coach Tom Thibodeau often matches him up against the opposing team’s best shooting guard, small forward or even its power forward at times.

If the Bulls plan to move him, they had better sell Thibodeau on the idea.

Thibodeau doesn’t play favorites, but it’s obvious that Deng is his type of player.

“A lot of guys will say all the right things and do none of them,’’ Thibodeau said several times this past season. “[Deng is] just the opposite. When he has something to say, he’s going to say it. He’s going to say it the right way at the right time, and then he does all the right things each and every day. And he’s so consistent. He does it that way the entire season.’’

If the Bulls were to trade into the top five of the draft, they would do so looking for forward help. Jimmy Butler already is penciled in as the starting shooting guard for next season, but he’s versatile enough to slide into Deng’s forward spot if necessary.

That would leave the Bulls deciding among Victor Oladipo (Indiana), Otto Porter (Georgetown) and Anthony Bennett (UNLV).



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