Leading up to the NBA Draft, the longest tenured Bull had to deal with the realization that management was looking to trade him for a lottery pick.
Management reportedly quietly assured Luol Deng that they weren’t looking to trade him and all the fuss surrounding the team ended as they selected Kentucky freshman point guard Marquis Teague with the 29th selection in Thursday’s draft.
Most of the Deng trade rumors were believed to be because of the front office unhappiness with the small forwards decision to still represent Great Britain in this summer’s Olympics instead of getting a torn ligament in his left wrist repaired and being ready for training camp.
Now, those rumors can be put to bed as Deng might not need surgery at all.
In an interview Friday with ESPN 1000 on Friday, Coach Tom Thibodeau spoke about the work Deng has put into rehabbing and strengthen his wrist and said he expected him to be ready for training camp once the Olympics concluded.
“He’s feeling a lot better; his wrist is a lot stronger,” Thibodeau said while being interviewed on the “Waddle and Silvy Show.” “I think it’s going to work out well.”
When asked did he think Deng would need surgery, he answered: “No, I don’t think so. The way it is right now, he’s going to play in those (Olympic) Games, he’s going to come back and continue his training. He said his wrist is feeling a lot better.”
Deng injured the wrist in a late January game against the Charlotte Bobcats. He suffered a similar injury to his right wrist during his rookie season.
Despite the injury, he still led the league in minutes with just under 40 per game (39.4).
He opted to skip surgery in hopes of helping the Bulls try and win a championship – which everyone within the front office and on the roster believed they would do.
The Bulls backed his decision to play through the injury, but once Derrick Rose went down in their first round series with a torn left ACL and it was determined that he would be out eight to 12 months, management’s thinking changed as the importance of having Deng fully healthy and ready to start the season on time was elevated.
Despite Thibodeau’s beliefs, General Manager Gar Forman was more hopeful than certain in speaking with ESPN 1000’s “The Carmen, Jurko and Harry Show also on Friday.
“That’s the hope (that surgery is unnecessary). His wrist, he’s continued to do a lot of rehab on it. And he’s been working out on a regular basis. His wrist has gotten stronger and is feeling better. I know that’s what Luol hopes for and that’s what we hope for.”
Forman also shot down the rumors that the management tried to discourage Deng from playing in the Olympics as well as shot down the rumors that the Bulls were looking to move him leading up to the draft.
“When the season ended, what we wanted to do is sit down with Luol, and we wanted to review all the information and visit with our medical staff and put together a plan that was best moving forward. So there was nothing confrontational or adversarial by any means. What we want is the same thing that Luol wants. We want what’s best for him. At the end of the day, I think that’s how it’s played out.”
While this news may be good, it should be taken lightly as once Deng begins playing for Great Britain, he faces the chances of re-injuring the wrist. While he can’t do any further damage to it, surgery will definitely be a topic once again when his play for Great Britain is concluded.