Deng’s agent: Bulls’ low-ball offer was non-negotiable
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter January 8, 2014 10:02PM
Updated: January 8, 2014 11:01PM
Luol Deng and his camp expect to sit down with Cavaliers ownership and talk about a contract extension that will keep him in Cleveland long-term.
Such conversations with Bulls management came with an agenda, according to Deng’s agent, Herb Rudoy, who believes the team purposely low-balled his client to make him walk.
Rudoy told the Sun-Times that last week Bulls general manager Gar Forman offered Deng a take-it-or-leave-it three-year, $30 million contract, knowing the veteran would turn it down.
“I think the purpose of it was for us to say no,’’ Rudoy said. “They probably had some deal in the process already. That was the purpose — to make an offer that we absolutely would turn down without question, and then get into their trade process. Again, that’s fine.
“Lu was surprised he was traded. They had certainly made it clear to him that he would be a Bull forever, but he also understands that this is a business. And that’s what he’s doing, he’s moving on.’’
Rudoy also wanted to clear up the assumption that Deng was looking for a deal that would pay him annually in the $14 million-$15 million range. While the agent didn’t deny that he would have “asked for a lot of money,’’ he and Deng never were given that chance, even going back to the summer, when the Bulls first broke off the contract talks.
“We never asked for anything,’’ Rudoy said. “Let me make that clear. We talked with them just before the start of the season, and we were told they weren’t interested in doing an extension, which was fine with us. Then I got a call this past weekend from Gar giving me a three-year offer, and one he said was non-negotiable. It was their final offer, take it or leave it, and Lu decided to not accept it. I was never given an opportunity to propose a dollar figure. Never once. Never had that discussion.
“There were all these assumptions about what we wanted, but we never negotiated. I would have asked for a lot of money, that’s for sure, but we never had an opportunity to negotiate. That was their position. We made it clear to them that we were going to wait for free agency then. No problem. Wait until July 1.’’
Deng and Rudoy did meet with Cavs ownership, and while the free agent-to-be would like some security, Wednesday wasn’t the day to start that process.
“Today was the first day of the rest of his life, so that wasn’t discussed,’’ Rudoy said. “We met the owners, they’re terrific guys. They’re like Jerry Reinsdorf, who was very good to [Deng] all his years in Chicago. I met with them just to say hello, and at some point there will be a discussion about [an extension]. But there have been no discussions at all.’’
Meanwhile, Deng’s old teammates have gone through their own emotional roller coaster since the deal was announced late Monday night.
“It is [strange] because Lu did so much for this team on both ends of the floor, not to mention how great of a leader he was,’’ guard Jimmy Butler said. “And we’re so used to hearing Lu say, ‘Bulls on three,’ and then counting us out. And it’s not Lu anymore.
“[It was me], and it was weird. But new roles, new leaders. Got to step up.’’