No Deal For Deng Means Drama For Bulls

Regardless of how well the players and the coaches fended off the distraction of it, the Chicago Bulls’ 2012-13 season was preoccupied, overshadowed and generally beholden to one question: “Is Derrick back?”

Odds are good, as of Tuesday, that 2013-14 will be colored by a variation on that query, as in: “Is Deng gone?”

With reports that talks of a contract extension between Luol Deng and the Bulls have broken off [CSNChicago.com], followed up by agent Herb Rudoy‘s quote that the All-Star forward “will definitely go through” free agency next summer [Chicago Tribune], a team that grappled with considerable unknowns last season assured itself of a fat one for this year. What it means to the depth and cohesiveness of the Bulls as they try to chase down the Miami Heat and a couple other improving Eastern Conference contenders remains to be seen. But it adds drama where there might have been none.

Derrick Rose, obviously, is the fulcrum on which this season tilts; if he can return from extended rehab (since April 2012) to his status as one of the NBA’s most explosive, elusive players, Chicago looks equipped to challenge the Heat and jockey with Indiana and Brooklyn for East surpremacy.

But Deng has been the Bulls’ glue and constant for the past three seasons, at least. From coach Tom Thibodeau‘s arrival through Rose’s major absence (and lesser ones), the 6-foot-8 forward has been a two-time All-Star and two-way player, coping with and often playing in spite of his own less-spectacular injuries. Deng has been Thibodeau’s go-to guy in you-name-it situations, and it took a rather serious scare last spring – he developed a serious infection after undergoing a spinal tap during the first-round series vs. the Nets – to sit him down for good.

Still just 28 after nine NBA seasons, Deng has been taken for granted by Bulls fans who remember the contract haggles that he and teammate Ben Gordon went through in 2007 and 2008. Deng finally landed his six-year, $71 million deal while Gordon left to seek his fortune (five years, $58 million) in free agency, yet the climate at United Center often seems almost as chilly toward the former as the latter.

As a performer and a teammate, as a workhorse who soaks up innings (Deng has averaged 39.1 minutes the past three seasons, leading the NBA over the past two), the man from the South Sudan has been terrific. His biggest failing? Probably his timing.

Deng’s current contract, signed in 2008, will pay him $14.2 million this season, a big number under the current CBA. He’s coming off what for the Bulls, for all its pluckiness, largely was a lost season, given Rose’s absence. And his own health issue late flipped more opportunity to Jimmy Butler, who emerged over the second half as a potential Deng replacement.

Some might argue that Chicago isn’t even all-in on 2013-14, despite Rose’s need for consistency around him as much as added talent. The Carlos Boozer countdown will be busy, with the veteran power forward headed to the amnesty pile next offseason and with Nikola Mirotic stashed overseas like some new-millennium Toni Kukoc. Rose could be rusty, Boozer and Joakim Noah might be due for  breakdowns, the roster still needs another big and Deng is facing the equivalent of a qualifying year. With the exception that he could be dealt by the Feb. 20 trade deadline.

Deng feels he has earned, and will keep earning, another big contract. But with Rose, Noah and Taj Gibson on the books for more than $39 million in 2014-15 and chairman Jerry Reinsorf having to shell out another $16.8 million for Boozer whether he’s on the books or not, the Bulls either will be looking for a hometown discount from Deng or will have moved on to Butler entirely. Meanwhile, Deng will have options, with teams both ambitious and rebuilding, eager to land a solid player, leader and citizen.

This all will be played out over 82 games, many of which Deng probably will play hurt again, will get left on the court too long or will be sent back in by Thibodeau to nail down the outcome. The mileage on his odometer will spike and, this time, it will be dinging a market value in which the Bulls will have no future stake.

It all might set a good team guy like Deng to wondering why one player can get treated as gingerly as the Stanley Cup while others get used as if they’re Dixie.

64 Comments

  1. LeBronsBabyToe says:

    Side-show Rose and Deng-o Unchained..??

  2. flabrtyh says:

    keeping deng would be great if they did not have booze on the books and had a pf that could make it happen in the post; but in the long roun moving deng and booze is the right thing. deng is not good enough of a legit dribble drive threat and booze disappears when crunch time comes around. maybe butler is the answer to one of those problems is something we gonna have to wait and see.

  3. juggernaut584 says:

    Deng is not a superstar, but he is a very good two-way player that can help any team in the league. However, due to the fact that he is not a superstar, I think that Chicago should part ways with him. He’s not worth a max contract at this point in his career, and I think the Bulls should search for another all-star caliber player who can create his own shot, and take some of the scoring load off D.Rose’s shoulders. They should also rid themselves of Boozer and his terrible contract if at all possible. If I was running this franchise, I would have made several calls to Portland to try to get LaMarcus Aldridge in a Bulls uniform asap, as he has already voiced his desire to come to Chi-town and play with Rose. I would also inquire about Wes Matthews or Nic Batum to replace Deng as their best perimeter defender. Matthews is already a proven defender, while Batum would have a chance to grow and flourish under Thibs as a young, long, athletic wing with 3pt range and defensive prowess. This would give Chicago the needed pieces to possibly get over the hump and make it back to the Finals, or at least challenge Miami in the ECF.

  4. Nikhil Michael says:

    I honestly think we should trade Deng and boozer , where we are going to find people who want to take part in that trade is beyond me, but im sure there are some interested parties, for one thing we are going to need a consistent shooter, cause this year has not looked good for our offence, defensively i know thibs has a handle on the situation, we can start Taj and give him a run out.

  5. Kevo says:

    Lebron is going to restart the Washington Bullets with Bradley Beal, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Dennis Rodman, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Phil Jackson as coach. They will 10-peat.

  6. Josh says:

    I think Deng is definitely a valuable player and will get his due amount when the time comes. If he wants top dollar for his contract he will have to join a big money market team in order to do so unless the bulls can unload some other contracts. Personally a Laker fan, and wouldn’t mid having him on their roster. I’d prefer him over the scrubs that the Lakers are signing now lol

  7. you are all ... says:

    My uncle told me that derrick rose was shot by a sniper in the crowd with an imaginary unicorn bullet. He works as a trainer coach for the Heat, he also told me that Bill Cartwright is about to sign a 400 billion dollar deal with the Memphis Grizzlies and traded John Corn Con for Maverick Pluto E Y Gung Hoo Joe next season.

  8. Yael says:

    15 seems a little steep. No one said winning was cheap though…

  9. Yael says:

    15 seems a little steep. No one said winning is cheap though…

  10. JBLS says:

    I wish OKC would sign Deng.

    • BigBoy says:

      westbrook KD perk Ibaka, they dont have room for a Deng contract. he’d want about the same as Harden wanted but he walked because he couldnt get it. might as well trade him Deng and Noah and Butler for thabo sefolosha and reggie jackson huh? do whatever to make your team better.

  11. kenjah says:

    People in NBALAND. Understand the NBA and professional sports teams around the world have one thing in common “money more important than a player health”. That’s exactly what they had the strike to fight. NBA owners are a player best friend until his body breaks down. This is something we have to look at when we complain about “Lebron, Howard” and other stars that pick and choose teams in free agency. Our players’ minutes need to be monitored like the old days. This is the exact reason KOBE got injured. He was playing 40+ minutes a night trying to get the Lakers in the playoff then got hurt. After people question is he is too old to compete but he was playing his best season before he got hurt. Owners and Fans have a lot in common too, fans will go on ban wagons until a player get hurt then they complain and blog. Just like in the early Vince Carter or TMAC days. They were hype but when they got hurt they are soft or didn’t try hard enough. The list is longer than what we have time to discuss. All professional sports teams are running a business and the athletes are the products. If the products selling well, you keep buying to sell more and if stop selling, guess it is now on clearance sale.

  12. Garry Foulkes says:

    Personally I would love to see
    C Noah
    PF Love
    SF Buttler
    SG Harden
    PG Rose
    6th man J R Smith.

    • BigBoy says:

      thats like a 4-team trade lol….and whats with jimmy butler being on that list? with 4 lik those why wouldnt you say lebron kd or melo

  13. Garry Foulkes says:

    The Bulls could do with shipping off Deng and Boozer. Bring in younger players that are not going to get injured as much.
    You have to keep Noah, Gibson, Buttler, Rose and Hinrick. Bring in guys to work around them.

  14. art says:

    Trade Boozer and Deng to the Lakers for Gasol and W.Jonhson or N.Young.

  15. CraigD says:

    The new NBA agreement is going to impact other teams like this. I am sure that the Bulls would love to keep Deng, but he will cost too much. IF they do keep him, then they have to dump someone else. It is the new reality.

  16. Freida says:

    I don’t care how much a player is making, to play a person to the brink of breakdown is ridiculous and Thib appears that with his players. He should not be allowed to do that. I think he is a a bad coach and the Bulls organization better straighten the coach out to stop playing players to the brink of a breakdown,

  17. gsai says:

    Get Deng to the Wizards for Veseley and Ariza or Okafor, he already knows how to play with their system.

  18. Efrain says:

    Luol is a life time Bulls’ guy. He’ll get his contrat now or next summer. The Bulls need him, the fans love him, and he love Chicago. this is not a Howard like issue. Luol is a true gentelment on an off the court. He deserve a good contract extention with the Bulls.

  19. M1-23 says:

    In spite of what the whole NBA fans may think we will make many cry and leave with there mouths open. Like always saying ” how did they do that?”

  20. claude says:

    Its crazy to give up on Deng his value worth the value as rose he was hold this team together before rose came on the bulls team. He’s still a very good player and he’s very much a valuable part of this team get rid of Deng the team will struggle he know how to run the team just as rose I just don’t understand Chicago bulls get good player and they let them go Chicago bulls its not always about saving money its about compliment your players for there service not used them up and when you think they no good anymore have you ever learn anything about past player they thought that wasn’t any good anymore went on to still have successful careers

  21. lee says:

    i think the should keep deng try to trade boozer and taj gibson for bosh who would fit into their system and honestly i think deng should give a hometown discount because i wouldnt pay 14 mil a year for him the could prob sign paul george for that and id rather have george and butler anyways ya deng is good but if he want sign for a 10 a year then let him walk d rose butler and noah is still a good 3 to build around and i think the could sign bosh cheap next year ifthe heat let him walk because he hasnt done anything with the heat because he never gets to touch the ball so id like to see bosh and george sign on the line that would be the best starting 5 in the league and george is already contesting with james every game this could be the signing that pushes the bulls over the top in free agency

  22. Real Talk says:

    Everybody who feels sympathy for players such as this needs to re-evaluate. So they work their players hard and trade them or let them go, by their mid 30’s when they retire, they are probably still in better shape than average and will never have to work again. In addition, they have the opportunity to compete with the best in a sport they have grown to love. By the way, I am a big fan of Deng and others, but they prob feel sorry for us. Real Talk.

  23. Dantrell says:

    Most of the people who said Deng should leave aren’t true Bulls fans. The Bulls f’d up once by breaking up the ’06 team that sweeped the Heat in the first round which was probably one of the best group of guys we had since the MJ era. I refuse to stay a Bulls fan if they get rid of Deng to give Butler who has a problem with taking bad shots. Deng has been the hardest working, most consistent player on this team despite a few injuries. The Bulls organization are always going out and getting average players to replace hard working players because they’re too cheap to pay them the money they deserve (same thing can be said for any Chicago team really). Can’t afford to pay Deng, then get rid of Boozer who we don’t need or get rid of some other players.

  24. Chris says:

    Using palyers until their bodies breakdown may not seem right … but at 14-15m/per year … that’s how it is.

  25. J says:

    great article!
    he wont be traded. I think he’ll stay for atleast 1 more season after next year.
    if he does get traded it will probably be a big deal involving Gibson and or boozer among others for a star.

  26. snow shoes says:

    I like Derrick Rose

    • ??? says:

      Usually I don’t write comments here but c’moon. Really, do you have nothing more to say? The post is about Deng, and of course almost everyone likes D-Rose. Maybe I make myself stupid when replying this but nuff is nuff. I feel that Bulls are in a crossroads now, cause no one knows about next season. Too many iffs. Rose and the health, Noah and the health, Boozer amnesty?, Deng and the health, Jimmy future star?, Taj and big contract-where’s the reward-he’s good but needs to replace Boozer at some point-hopefully before amnestying Boozer-otherwise he’s just a very good sub, Hinrich and health etc… I really hope that Bulls does not make panic decisions, to fix these iffs and see how it goes takes a lot of time and games. Maybe one season? Like building a team through the draft. I hope they manage all of the things because I like the culture of playing in Chicago, everyday all in.

    • marcuschitown11 says:

      Really?

    • summer flip flop says:

      I hate Derrick Rose

  27. LEo says:

    Trade DENG for chandler parsons and draft picks, HOU can use him to defend the likes of KD,LEBRON, PG and KAWHI plus he can shoot outside..

  28. cube#34 says:

    Bulls need to sell him to the west coast, maybe Sacramento, couse i’m not sure if the goldenstate can be toucht, for
    someone young and perspective

  29. John says:

    Deng is always welcome to join the ny knicks since we appreciate great talent here!

  30. miami fan 4 life says:

    My uncle is Bill Foran the strength coach at Miami Heat and he gave me the inside word that Deng will be signing to Heat before the start of the season in a blockbuster trade which will see Deng, Heinrich from the Bulls and Westbrook from the Thunder for James Jones to Bulls and Rashard Lewis and Chalmers to Thunder. This will get the Heat some more depth looking forward to it:

    PG Westbrook/Heinrich
    SG Wade/Allen
    SF King James/Deng
    PF Bosh/Birdman
    C Oden/ Anthony

    Looks pretty good to me!!!! Miami 3peat 4 sure!!!

    • miguelamor22 says:

      You’re either a liar or a snitch who can’t keep his mouth shut. This seems like a ridiculous deal so I’m inclined to think you’re a liar. If what you say is true, then your uncle is a fool for telling his loose lipped moron of a nephew inside information about team business for him to air out all over the internet. Way to use his name! Real smart buddy your uncle ain’t gonna be strength coach for long.

    • bullysix says:

      Lol maybe uncle should leave the weight alone they are impacting his mind

      • R-Dawg says:

        As if that trade will happen. Chalmers and Rashard Lewis to the Thunder??? And is Robin Lopez being sent to the Rockets for Dwight Howard also???

    • marcuschitown11 says:

      …you and your uncle are high.
      …clown.

    • Johnny says:

      This guys always posts crazy “insider” information. It usually consists of miami ending up looking like Eastern All Star team.

    • skrutz says:

      He’s my uncle too, and he said that Michael Jordan is going to join the Heat as well.

    • Your Mailman says:

      Your Mom told me it’s time for you to see your psychiatrist.
      Chalmers and Lewis for westbrook? You got it all wrong buddy. How do I know? Your uncle told me so.
      It’s going to be Spo for Westbrook.

      Who’s more delusional? F-Miami fan boys or Fakers fan boys?

    • mj says:

      the miami heat are over the luxury tax, is it possible to make this trade? yes but there wont be a future after 2014 due to being Broke.

  31. Inamo says:

    Deng’s body is torn down due to the minutes given to him by Thibs, and it kinda bothers me if the issue of the Bulls not extending him is due to his torn down body. So what will happen when Noah’s contract is up? Rose? and just for how many years Butler has to play (in heavy minutes if Deng goes) until his young body breaks down? I respect Thibs as a coach and the Bulls as an organization, but overusing starters then disposing them afterwards doesn’t appear right to me.

    • JPeppers says:

      Deng got 70MIL!!! Its a business so what they’re getting rid of him because his body is broke down. Believe they paid him more than enough.

    • lel says:

      Rose still has 5 years to run on his contract, and there’s no way in hell that the Bulls would release him when his contract is up unless his level of play drops dramatically, which probably won’t happen.
      Noah is one of the best centres in the league. There’s no way they’ll let him go either, at least not for compensation.

    • GN says:

      How can a man making 14-15 mil be overused is a mystery to me?

    • Syed Husain says:

      Completely agree with you Inamo, these kinds of perverse incentives will lead players to not try their hardest or to avoid playing the way they are supposed to play. Players like Deng, who play through injuries need to be treated right.

  32. Peter c says:

    He should be worth at least 15M a year for a contender. Cleveland, the Lakers, Houston, Dallas, and others will be vying for his services.

  33. Mick Zombie says:

    I think the Bulls need to keep Deng. He’s proved himself a worthy all-star twice now. Amnesty Boozer, bringing Mirotic and keep Deng at all costs!! Deng and Jimmy Buckets with Rosé and Noah is about as solid as it gets.

  34. Scotty the great says:

    I have no idea how the numbers would work out, but I’d love to see Deng on the Jazz. Utah is the long time home to under the radar stars, and Deng fits in perfectly. Now if we could just get a coach as mean as Sloan back, we’d have something to talk about. Yes. I went there.

    • mj says:

      are you crazy? jerry sloan is over 70 years old and the jazz have too many forwards on their team. deng wants to win a championship