It’s a new day and a new era for the Chicago Bulls as they try to move on through the season without two-time All-Star Luol Deng. Deng was traded a day ago in a shocking move to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum and draft picks. The Bulls nation had to take a step back and reflect on what is really going on with the team, but the team had to move on from the news and continue to play some basketball. They did just that and got a big win against a feisty and surprisingly good Phoenix Suns team, 92-87.
The Bulls came into this game with only nine players on the roster, and Carlos Boozer was out another game resting a sore knee. But the Bulls did not seem to let the shock of the trade keep them down. As we know coach Tom Thibodeau will never let the Bulls show weakness even as a team with uncertainties. His whole mantra has always been next man up and we have enough to win. With the trade of Deng and Derrick Rose already out for the season with the knee injury, this will really be a test for the Bulls. The win against the Suns is a very good start.
Many players can step in and pick up the slack without Deng. Taj Gibson led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Joakim Noah added 14 points and 16 rebounds while Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell, who will be the guys to step in Deng’s place, combined for 25 points. The Bulls have won six of their last eight games and are undefeated in the New Year. They are playing with much more energy and aggressiveness.
The Bulls have to continue to move forward and try not to worry about this trade. It won’t be easy because Deng was just one of those guys that brought it every night and was a locker room leader. His leadership skills will be hard to replace. We know for sure Thibodeau will have the Bulls playing hard regardless of who is there, and the Bulls are still thinking playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference.