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Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Bulls player review: Luol Deng

By Nick Friedell

Nick Friedell looks at each player on the Chicago Bulls roster and how they fit in for the future.

Luol Deng
Luol Deng led the NBA with 38.7 minutes a game this season.

Luol Deng


2012-13 salary: $13,305,000 | Age: 28 | Season stats: 16.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg

Season recap: Deng was the most consistent player on the Bulls' roster this season. Tom Thibodeau repeatedly called Deng "the glue" of the team and that was an apt description given how many things he did well for this squad. Deng played in 75 games before being knocked out of the postseason because of a bad case of the flu and complications due to a spinal tap. He also acknowledged late in the postseason that he had played through a fractured thumb and was still playing with torn ligaments in his wrist from last season. He endeared himself to the fans because of his play and continues to be one of Thibodeau's favorite players.

Season highlight: Deng scored 19 points with seven assists and six rebounds in a Jan. 16 win in Toronto in which he also knocked down the game-winning shot.

Season lowlight: Before leaving the postseason because of illness, Deng struggled badly in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Brooklyn Nets. He was just 3-for-11 from the field and struggled to control Nets forward Gerald Wallace.

Final grades: Regular season: B+ Postseason: B-

Notes: Deng sent out a flurry of tweets after Game 6 against the Nets defending his decision not to play after enduring a spinal tap. He did not appreciate critics who had come out before the game and suggested he needed to be on the floor if he was just suffering from the flu.

Quotes: "I just felt like everyone kept saying I'm missing the game because of the flu," Deng said of his decision to go to Twitter. "I've been here for nine years and I've played with the flu without coming to the media and saying I had the flu. I don't think the flu would make me miss a game. I might not play well, I might not play the minutes I play, but even if I had the flu I would sit on the bench. It kind of bothered me a little bit that that's what was being said when I had a totally different thing. It wasn't really just the flu."

What's next?: Deng must get his body back in order while the Bulls must decide whether to keep him or trade him. They might not want to lose the two-time All-Star, but if they can get a younger, cheaper asset they must consider doing so given the fact that Deng's deal runs out after next season.