PHILADELPHIA — It was speculated last week that Bulls forward Luol Deng was a no doubt, hands down, bet the farm guarantee to return against the Miami Heat on Sunday.
Then Luol Deng told the great Chuck Swirsky that this was news to him.
Well, it’s that time of the week again. Luol Deng may make his return to the Bulls lineup on Thursday against the New York Knicks after missing, at that point, nearly two weeks.
“I would say he’s very close,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s doing more and more and feels a lot better. We want to make sure he feels good about playing. He still has to take contact on it. As long as he’s moving in the right direction, we’re pleased with that.”
There has been so much speculation about Deng, the severity of his injury, the length of his rest and when he’ll return so all reports need to be taken with a grain of salt unless it comes directly from Deng himself.
This is because there is a culture of deception in Chicago when it comes to injuries. It’s tough to get a good footing on just how injured guys are. Derrick Rose merely banged up his toe in Minnesota which turned into turf toe which turned into a sprained toe. Same thing happened with Rip Hamilton where he seemed fine against Miami after returning from a groin injury, but then he missed Monday’s game with a deep thigh bruise.
The worst case was perhaps Deng’s injury where he went from fine to out for the season to fine again to out for a while to ‘we don’t know when he’ll be back’.
That deception continues as Deng went from returning on Sunday to still being out. If you had a drinking game revolving around Deng’s status — well we’ll wake you up when we get to the playoffs.
But the signs the Deng return on Thursday are actually better and more solid then they were when he was supposed to return Sunday. Deng has already missed nearly two weeks of play and can dribble and shoot in practice. The injury is also do Deng’s non-shooting hand which bodes well for a Thursday return.
He would also be playing the flip side of a back-to-back and would have Friday to rest again.
But Deng’s wrist injury is severe and he opted to not have surgery to repair it. Because of this Deng needs to be extra careful when he comes back so as he doesn’t want to make a bad situation worse by rushing back. Deng is known for his defense and whether it’s his shooting hand or not that is injured, he needs both to play his top-notch style of defense.
“I could go tonight I would. If I am able to go on Sunday I will, whatever game I can.” said Deng to Chuck Swirsky on Friday.
Deng won’t be back for the Bulls game tonight against the Sixers but tomorrow against New York could see him return. At that point the question becomes how effective will he be and more importantly — as is now with all returning Bulls — how injured is he still?