No matter how many times the Chicago Bulls deny they're attempting to trade forward Luol Deng, the rumors of a potential deal just will not die.

The latest comes from ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst. In their Dec. 31 report on the Cleveland Cavaliers' attempts to trade Andrew Bynum, they note sources close to the situation have indicated the Bulls and Cavaliers have had talks centered on the pair of former All-Stars.

Chicago has rebuffed all offers for Deng thus far, who will hit unrestricted free agency this summer. The team is expected to make a push to re-sign the 28-year-old forward, a favorite of coach Tom Thibodeau who has spent the first decade of his career in the Windy City.

Despite the Bulls' protests, however, the potential for a huge financial windfall could cause them to reconsider. The second half of Bynum's partially guaranteed $12.25 million salary for 2013-14 can be wiped off the books by Jan. 7, allowing the team that holds his rights to reap the financial reward. Shelburne and Windhorst note Chicago could save upward of $20 million in luxury tax and salary by swapping Deng for Bynum.

Expected to compete for a championship, the Bulls ignored their frugal past and went past the NBA luxury tax for just the second time in history this season. That plan backfired just 10 games into the campaign when Derrick Rose suffered another catastrophic knee injury, which sent the team into a state of flux.

The Bulls are 6-12 since Rose was injured on Nov. 22, and despite winning three of their last four games, they will have to battle to make the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference.

Those struggles have caused some to look at Deng as trade bait. Chicago would have to wipe out around $8 million to avoid the tax, something a potential Bynum deal helps accomplish. Team owner Jerry Reinsdorf seems willing to pony up extra cash for a winner, but it's questionable that he'd enjoy paying the tax two years in a row to compete for early playoff exits.