As Real GM's Shams Charania first reported, the Cleveland Cavaliers made a blockbuster deal early Tuesday morning to strengthen their roster for a playoff push, dealing three future Draft picks and Andrew Bynum's partially guaranteed contract to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for small forward Luol Deng, a two-time All-Star.
Cleveland's acquisition of Deng--a marked improvement at small forward over the incumbent Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee--means there's one fewer team looking to upgrade its wing rotation, and thus one fewer possible destination for Orlando Magic shooting guard Arron Afflalo.
Afflalo is averaging 20.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, and four assists per game for Orlando and could earn the first All-Star nod of his career. The combination of his production, bargain contract, and high character means that Orlando is not necessarily looking to trade him. But some Magic fans and NBA experts, including Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney, have argued the merits of dealing the seventh-year player, noting that his trade value may never be higher and that, at 28, he may no longer be productive when the rebuilding Magic's young core is ready to seriously compete for a playoff spot.
ESPN scribe Marc Stein termed the subject of Afflalo's trade availability "a constant source of curiosity" Monday afternoon, which wording suggests the league's teams can't quite get a handle on Orlando's intentions with regard to its leading scorer. In December, Yahoo!'s Marc J. Spears reported that the Magic have not shown any interest in trading the UCLA product. One team that may have interest in Afflalo, should the Magic make him available, is the Toronto Raptors, as Zach Lowe reported on Grantland.
The Bulls' side of this deal also affects Orlando, but not to so great a degree: with Deng in Cleveland and former league MVP Derrick Rose due to miss the entire season with a knee injury, Chicago has officially signaled its intention to turn an eye toward the future. The Magic could thus have a new neighbor in the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but Chicago's 14-18 record through Monday was good for sixth in the weaker conference, and five full games ahead of 14th-place Orlando. It's possible, but unlikely, that the Bulls could finish with a worse record than the Magic and thus own better odds in the NBA Draft Lottery.