Luol Deng announced that he will play for Great Britain in the Summer Olympics following the Chicago Bulls 79-78 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. The team became only the fifth No. 1 in history to lose to the No. 8 seed, dropping the series 4-2.
When asked about his injured wrist and Olympics status, Deng did not hesitate to say the words that may rub Bulls fans the wrong way.
“I’m going to play in the Olympics.”, Deng said. “I’m excited about it, something I wanted to do since i was a kid and I’m going to prepare myself for it.”
Deng has been a warrior for Chicago all season, fighting through a torn ligament in his left wrist for a large chunk of the year. The 6-9 small forward was voted to his first All-Star game in the lockout-shortened season, averaging 15 points and 6.5 rebounds.
Despite his stellar play under the circumstances, Bulls fans are thinking towards the future. If Deng does opt to undergo surgery following the Olympics, Chicago will be without their star defender for the majority of the 2012-13 season. With Derrick Rose also likely missing several months recovering from a torn ACL, the Bulls may be without their top two scorers for most of next year.
The dilemma being brought up is that Deng is owed 13.4 million next season by the Bulls, not the Olympic team. Deng postponing surgery to play for Great Britain results in more missed games for his employer, who pays him quite a hefty sum to play basketball, not sit in a suit on the sidelines.
Deng said he will make the decision on surgery options after the Olympics have concluded.
“I’ve got to see how my wrist feels throughout the Olympics, how it feels from now going into the Olympics. Right after the Olympics, I’ll make the decision on whether my wrist is good enough that I don’t need the surgery or if I need it. I haven’t really reuled out not getting the surgery or getting it.”
While it is a obviously a huge honor to represent your country at the Olympic games, this is a sticky situation. Dwyane Wade said earlier in the year that players should be compensated for playing in the Olympics, but what about the teams that put their star players at risk? This especially comes into play in a situation like the Bulls, where Deng will likely miss two more months because of his commitment to Great Britain.
Without Deng and Rose, can the Bulls stay in playoff position next year? The Bulls lineup is completely up in the air, with Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson all staring down unguaranteed contracts for 2012-13, John Lucas III expiring this year, and Omer Asik with a qualifying offer. The depth that Chicago has prided itself on throughout the last two seasons is starting to expire, and with the bloated contracts of Carlos Boozer, Deng, Joakim Noah and the new extension for Rose, the Bulls will not be able to bring back everyone.
Do you think Deng is making the right decision? How will the Bulls fare without him and Rose? Leave a comment and stay with Rant Sports for more news and analysis.