Wait what? They need to push him INTO playing? Yes. Yes they do. They need to put on a full court press about how excited they are that he's playing for Great Britain and lend him their full support. Unfortunately, they're intending the opposite.
The Bulls are intending to try and push Deng into not going to Great Britain. They'd surely like him to immediately get surgery and prepare for the next NBA season. Especially since they'll likely be missing Derrick Rose for a good chunk of it [and perhaps all of it].
However, they're being short sighted with this stance. No, I'm not suggesting that Deng's going to improve his game at the Olympics. No, I'm not suggesting that Deng's absence won't hurt Chicago next year. He'll be missed. Badly. The Bulls might even miss the playoffs because of him delaying surgery.
But you have to know what battles you can win, and what battles you can't.
Here's an old married guy trick for you newlyweds out there. When you know you're going to lose the battle in advance, when you know you have absolutely no hope of winning, don't fight it. Instead, claim all the brownie points. Say "Honey, I know this is incredibly important for you, and you should do it. Don't worry about me, I'll watch the kids that night. I got this.".
Deng is going to go play in the Olympics whether the Bulls like it or not. First, they have no power to stop him legally. Second, it's a moral absurdity to suggest that because Deng was hurt playing for the Bulls in the season and gave up the best medical practice available in order to play through pain and finish the playoffs that he should then pay for his generosity and toughness by also missing the once in a lifetime chance to pursue one of his greatest dreams.
Realizing that the Bulls really have no legal or moral leg to stand on here is the first part of this hump they need to get over. Sure they pay his salary, but if they didn't pay his salary plenty of other teams would pay his salary, and no one who gets hurt on the job waits four months to schedule their surgery in order to have it done over the week they were going to take the family to Disney world, but instead cancel so they don't miss work.
It's a ridiculous request made more ridiculous by the passing knowledge of how important this is [and why it is] so important to Luol. He literally owes Great Britain his life, and the lives of his family for GB granting his family political asylum. He's decided he can give back by building the GB basketball program, and this might be the only time GB qualifies for the Olympics in basketball and certainly the only time they'll do it while Luol can play and the Olympics are in London.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to give back in a very real way to the country he owes his life to. If the Bulls think they're talking him out of that, they're nuts. Not going to happen. Not so Deng can simply play in the first month of the regular season next year.
So instead, take the brownie points. Stress how you understand Luol has to do this. Stress how much you appreciate him delaying surgery even though it might make his Olympic performance more challenging. Stress how much you appreciate his contributions, and you're okay with him going.
When Deng comes back, he'll come back feeling like he has the full support of management. He'll come back with love for Chicago. He'll come back ready to run through a wall for the team knowing his decision hurt him. Make him feel bad doing something he knows he's going to do will just engender long term bitterness and nothing useful at all. It will make the Bulls look petty to FAs and fracture the chemistry this team is built on.
There's nothing to gain for fighting the losing battle, but there's plenty to gain from switching sides.
Filed under: Players