Deng's leg still bothering forward

CHICAGO -- Chicago forward Luol Deng had another setback in his quest to return from injury, and likely is out until at least the playoffs.

Deng hasn't played since Feb. 28 because of a stress fracture in his right tibia. He said he hasn't been able to run hard since the injury, and struggled recently when trying to do more.

"I increased the workout a little bit and had a great deal of pain," Deng said Tuesday. "I'm just going to try to be off everything for a little bit and try it again."

Deng, who is averaging 14.1 points and 6.0 rebounds in 49 games, said he'll try to work out early next week, but given the Bulls' regular season ends next Wednesday, he's probably out until the playoffs, at least.

"I feel like even if I'm capable of getting back to play for five minutes or 10 minutes, whatever, that could help," Deng said. "Those guys are playing a lot of minutes."

Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said the team is preparing as if Deng won't be back.

"That's been the mind-set all along, because I know how much pain the guy is in," Del Negro said. "He's been working and was feeling a little bit better and then not feeling as well. If there's a way to get him back, we'd love to have him back."

Forward Tim Thomas was excused for Tuesday's game against the New York Knicks, the team that dealt him at the trade deadline, and could be gone longer to deal with a family matter. The short-handed Bulls re-signed forward Linton Johnson III for the remainder of the season before the game.

Johnson was released on March 31 after his second 10-day contract expired, but the Bulls need another body in the frontcourt.