Following yesterday afternoon’s win against China, the Great Britain national team and Luol Deng’s Olympic journey came to a close. Likely knowing that there would be speculation regarding the status of his wrist, he put the predictions to rest before they even had a chance to manifest themselves. According to KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Luol Deng will either forgo surgery all-together or he’ll save it for next off-season.
Here’s what Deng had to say about the matter:
“Did I look like I needed (surgery)?” Deng said Monday evening. “I’m fine right now. I feel great. There are a lot of things I want to improve in my game that I want to focus on now. I want to be a better player than I was last year.”
Well, to be blunt, it did in fact look like he needed surgery. He may have scored nearly 16 points a game but his averages of 34% from the field and 20% from the international (shorter, by the way) three-point line didn’t quite make him the GB-saviour that fans envisioned. Combine that with the fact that his 41.2 percent shooting percentage in the past NBA regular season was his career-low and you’ve got to believe that some fans will remain unconvinced by Lu’s words.
It’s hard to understand a decision like this. It’s nor rational or beneficial to the Bulls title chances this upcoming season. Say Luol gets the surgery and misses the first two months of the season… if the Bulls manage to dig themselves in such a deep hole that they’ll miss the playoffs, the chances of the team being good enough to contend for a title with Deng and a hobbled Derrick Rose are slim to none.
Now, let’s say he forgoes the surgery and plays the entire 2012-2013 season. An exhausted, semi-injured Luol Deng and a hobbled Derrick Rose isn’t going to be enough to get past Lebron James and the Miami Heat, who will likely be gushing with playoff confidence by May. Chances are, if he doesn’t miss the first 15-20 games of the season, he’ll miss almost the same amount of time through-out the season trying to rest the wrist.
Here’s the worst part. All three of the most involved decision-makers are looking at the short-term benefits only. Tom Thibodeau’s wariness about injuries speaks for itself. Beating the crap out of Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton was no problem for him last season. The Bulls management had a meeting with Lu just before the Olympics to try to convince him not to play. He wouldn’t listen. His reasoning? He wanted to give back to Great Britain…
That was the kicker. Earlier this year, Deng was interviewed by ESPNChicago regarding his past few years as a Bull. Somewhere in that interview, he talked about the sadness he felt when he received a huge contract and found himself sidelined for significant portions of the next four years. Chances are, this is what Deng thinks is his way of giving back to Chicago.
Things like this are what makes Deng such a great person and player but if he really wants to do right by teammates and fans, he’ll get the surgery, be a good rehab partner to Derrick Rose, sit back and watch the Bulls lose and get ready for the 2013-2014 season with Shabazz Muhammad.