Chicago Bulls: 2012 London Olympics

Bulls, Deng face uncertain future

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
12:30
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Anyone who has followed Luol Deng and the Chicago Bulls in the past six months could have told you this was coming. It was inevitable.

[+] EnlargeLuol Deng
Paul Abell/US PresswireLuol Deng's decision to play through the pain of his wrist injury could have a lasting impact for the 2012-13 season.
From the moment Deng tore a ligament in his wrist in late January, he held to the same belief. He was going to put off surgery to help the Bulls try to win a title and, no matter what happened, he was going to play for Team Great Britain in the Olympics this summer. No matter how many different ways Deng was asked, his answer was always the same: He was “definitely” playing.

Playing in the London Olympics meant a little more to Deng because of the way the country embraced he and his family when they fled their native Sudan first to Egypt and then to England. Deng, who became a British citizen in 2006, badly wanted to represent the country on the world's biggest sporting stage.

From the outset, Bulls management always held the view that it would support Deng in his decision, but privately many in the organization wanted him to have the surgery as soon as the injury happened. The thinking was that Deng would have the surgery, be out three to four months, and then possibly come back for the playoffs. Either way, he would be ready to go for the Olympics and the 2012-13 season.

Deng, who endured the same injury on his right wrist during his rookie year, discussed the situation with the same doctor who performed that surgery and decided to put it off. He wanted to help the Bulls win a championship. While the Bulls, specifically coach Tom Thibodeau, were proud of the fact that Deng wanted to play through the pain, the cloud of uncertainty hung over him and the team throughout the rest of the season.

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Derrick Rose
PTS AST STL MIN
15.9 4.3 0.5 31.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Noah 11.3
AssistsJ. Noah 5.4
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BlocksJ. Noah 1.5