Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Bulls [Print without images]

Friday, June 28, 2013
Forman: Deng still a big part of Bulls

By Jon Greenberg

Luol Deng
Luol Deng still appears to be a key part of the Bulls -- at least for next season.
DEERFIELD, Ill. -- In 2004, Luol Deng was traded on draft night from the Phoenix Suns to the Chicago Bulls.

Since then, he's been in enough trade rumors to shut down Twitter.

Why would this summer be any different?

Deng's name was floated in several rumors leading up to Thursday's draft, but as expected, he's still with the team. He hasn't signed a contract extension either, which was another erroneous report.

Deng's agent, Herb Rudoy, told ESPNChicago in a phone conversation on Tuesday afternoon that no discussions for an extension were taking place.

"We've had zero discussions about an extension (for Deng)," Rudoy said. "Zero."

Deng will make more than $14 million in the final year of his contract and it looks like he'll be earning it by playing big minutes for coach Tom Thibodeau. With the team in luxury tax territory, it's conceivable he won't be back for next season. But the Bulls are gunning for the Miami Heat next year and Deng is a big part of the core.

"We value Luol as you all know," Bulls general manager Gar Forman said Thursday night after the team drafted two long-range shooters in Tony Snell (No. 20) and Erik Murphy (No. 49). "You've heard Tom talk about it during the season, and us talk about it for years.

"Luol's a big piece of what we're doing. He's been a big piece of the success we've had the last couple years. He'll continue to be a big piece of what we're doing moving forward."

Deng, who led the league in minutes per game in the regular season (38.7) and postseason (44.8 in five games), missed the last seven games of the playoffs with complications from a spinal tap. He has spent most of the offseason traveling abroad.

"We're very high on Luol and look forward to him coming back healthy and having a great year next season," Forman said.