HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Few teams in the league have shown a better understanding of how to survive without a key player than the league-leading Chicago Bulls.
They lose reigning MVP Derrick Rose for a few games with that bad toe and don’t miss a beat.
So while it’s obvious that the Bulls know exactly what to do when one of their big dogs is out of the lineup, it will be interesting to see what they do with Luol Deng on the shelf with that “Kobe Bryant” (torn ligament) in his left wrist.
It’s strange how Deng and Bryant’s names have criss-crossed over the course of Deng’s career. Don’t forget, it was reportedly Deng that the Bulls tried to send to the Lakers in a deal that would have brought Kobe to Chicago years ago. Reports that Bryant was objecting to any deal that included Deng (he wanted to make sure the Bulls had enough talent to compete for a title) is a testament to the value Deng’s peers place on his game.
That’s impressive for a player with no All-Star appearances on his resume yet and is one who is often overlooked when the conversation of the best small forwards in the game comes up.
Even more impressive will be the Bulls’ continued ability to grind through the avalanche of nicks, bumps and bruises that they’ve been able to brush aside so far (16-3 and atop the Eastern Conference and the league). They host the Pacers tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBA TV.
“I know it’s a bad injury and it sounds terrible, but really, I think it will fine,” Deng, who is trying to avoid surgery, told reporters yesterday. “We’ve got a good team, and I think I’m going to be fine.”