It is now official that Chicago Bulls veteran forward Luol Deng will become a free agent at the end of the 2013-14 season. The Bulls organization recently announced that they have stopped speaking to Deng’s representatives regarding a contract extension after this upcoming season. Thus, Deng will likely test out the waters of NBA free agency next summer. Although Deng’s days in Chicago now look as though they may be numbered, he must not let this effect his performance during the upcoming season.
Deng is one of the most valuable players on Chicago’s roster for several different reasons, thus making it crucial that he comes into the season focused and ready to contribute. Deng, who not only led the team in minutes played last season but the entire league, will be expected to play yet another large role for the Bulls this season. Although the return of Derrick Rose will slightly reduce Deng’s role, he is still expected to be one of the Bulls top-three scoring options.
Deng, who has been selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team each of the past two seasons, will be expected to relieve Rose of some of the offensive pressure this season. Luol has averaged 15 points per game or better each of the past four seasons, and will be expected to put up similar scoring numbers once again this year.
Deng is also one of Chicago’s best individual defenders and is expected to shut down All-Star-caliber players on a nightly basis. Therefore, not only do the Bulls need Deng to shine on the offensive side of the ball, but they also need him to have another superb performance on defense this season. Deng is one of the anchors of Chicago’s defense, which is regarded by many as one of the premier defenses in the NBA.
Regardless of what happens after the conclusion of the 2013-14 season once Deng enters free agency, he must not allow it to effect his performance on the court this year. For the time being, Deng is still a member of this Bulls team which will likely be competing for a title this upcoming season. The Bulls will be facing a tough road toward the title as they will likely have to get past their rival, the Miami Heat, and if they want to succeed, they will need Deng to be at his best.