DEERFIELD — As expected, the NBA’s annual trade deadline passed Thursday afternoon without the Bulls making any moves.
Veterans Kirk Hinrich and Mike Dunleavy Jr. were two players coveted to various degrees by other teams, but ultimately the Bulls decided to stand pat for the remainder of the regular season, having made their big splash last month when they traded Luol Deng to Cleveland. The deal with the Cavaliers brought back center Andrew Bynum—now a member of rival Indiana—and after the Bulls subsequently waived him, they got under the league’s luxury-tax threshold, though they’ll likely rotate players in and out on 10-day contracts to keep a mandatory 13th player on the roster.
Backup point guard D.J. Auguistin admitted that the trade deadline is a time of anxiety for players in general, something that makes sense after his transient experience this season of being signed by Toronto, where the Bulls won a road game Wednesday evening, then getting waived.
“Yeah, I think so,” he acknowledged after Thursday afternoon’s light practice session at the Berto Center. “We try not to worry about because you’ve got to stay focused. But in the back of your mind, it’s tough, especially when you have a family. You might have to just up and leave, and move to another city and a new team. So it’s always tough around this time, but at the same, time, you’ve got to try to stay focused and positive.”
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said that the deadline is only one of many distractions players can face, then allowed that it is something that requires monitoring.
“That’s a big part of this league, the challenge of this league. There’s always something that you’re dealing with and it’s how effectively you can deal with it and eliminate distractions. You start off the season and guys are trying to establish where they are in the rotation. Then you have the trade deadline and everyone talks about the speculation of the trades that are going to happen,” he explained. “You want to be aware of what’s going on in the league. You also understand this time of year there’s going to be a lot of stuff. Some of it is outrageous. Some of it is people talking. So you follow it. For me, I lock into our team, getting ready for the next game. Whoever we have here, I love the guys we have. I think we have more than enough. So just stay focused on what we have to do. Don’t get sidetracked.”
The aforementioned Deng was the subject of much speculation leading up to the deadline—Cleveland reportedly believes that the small forward is unlikely to sign an extension to stay with the struggling Cavaliers—but ultimately wasn’t moved.
“Like I’ve said, Lu was terrific for us. He’s somewhere else. We wish him well. We appreciated everything that he had done for us. I consider him to be a friend,” Thibodeau said about his former player. “But I can’t worry about what they’re doing. I have enough to worry about here. That’s what I stay focused on.”
While the trade deadline had plenty of speculation leading up to it and lots of conversations between teams not much happened. Perhaps the league's biggest swap happened at the last minute, when the Pacers dealt former All-Star Danny Granger to Philadelphia, in exchange for Chicago native Evan Turner and backup big man Lavoy Allen.