Bulls small forward Luol Deng went up for a rebound on Friday night, but when he came down he immediately grabbed his hamstring. Deng was forced to leave the game in the third quarter and didn’t return. After the game, Deng said he has tweaked his hamstring and likely won’t be ready to play tomorrow against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I tried to take off and as soon as I pushed off, I felt a pull.” Deng said after the game, via Chicago Tribune beat writer K.C. Johnson. “It’s swollen and painful.”
Deng originally injured his hamstring in the Bulls win on Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors. Deng stayed in the game and eventually hit the game winner, but he wasn’t able to finish on Friday.
Should Deng not be able to play on Saturday, which is looking like a distinct possibility, Jimmy Butler is looking at a start instead. Deng ended his night with 3 points in 27 minutes, while Butler played 25 minutes and scored 13 points. The Bulls have been looking to give Butler more minutes, and Butler is looking to earn as many as he can get.
Losing Deng throws off the Bulls fung shui a bit, but Butler has started before and does have a feel for the schemes. The Bulls shouldn’t stumble at all in Deng’s absence, and with Butler at their disposal, the hope is Deng will be rested as much as possible so the hamstring injury doesn’t flare up again.