In an interview with Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald, Luol Deng spoke of his season ending illness and complications with a spinal tap procedure he underwent as a precaution for meningitis . In the interview Deng stated:
“The end of the season was disappointing,” Deng said. “I worked hard all season, played in the All-Star (Game), and wanted to take the team as far as possible in the playoffs. But then, when I got sick, I think that we could have handled the situation better.
“Obviously there are some things that you can’t handle. You can’t really handle getting sick, being taken to the ER or going to the hospital. I got the spinal tap and that’s where it went all wrong. My body didn’t react well to the spinal tap. I had some serious side effects that not only didn’t allow me to play basketball, but really put my life in danger.”
I am not a cynical man and do have sympathy for the sick. That being said, this is starting to sound like the bickering of a couple going through a divorce. First of all, the Bulls doctors at best could have recommended he undergo the procedure because of concerns for his safety. Obviously, meningitis is nothing to take lightly, and being a natural born African that visits Africa often for his charitable foundation, I see that as a logical conclusion for the doctors to diagnose. After all that, Luol Deng is a grown man and like every person has the right to either say "No" or get a second opinion on medical procedures. Almost three months later he wants to put things in the media about how the situation was handled incorrectly by the Bulls ?
The timing of this makes me feel this is all about his contract situation, and painting the Bulls out as the bad guys. I have wrote numerous articles about my feelings about the Bulls front offices misdealing on varies situations. So by no means am I a defender of them, and this is precisely why for years now I have debated, even urged them to cut ties with Luol Deng. He is in his mind the star of this team, which could not be the farthest from the truth.
The real star of the Bulls as everyone knows is Derrick Rose. Since his birth at St. Bernard Hospital, Rose lives, breathes and bleeds and always will represent Chicago. If he were drafted by any other team in the league, Derrick Rose would still represent Chicago. He is the youngest MVP in league history and with good health has a chance to be a great player, even a future Hall of Fame inductee. He can very well end his career as the second greatest Bull of all time.
Drafted in 1978 with the 9th selection Reggie Theus was the star attraction at the old Chicago Stadium. During the 1980's "Rush Street" Reggie was the big name on a very lousy Bulls team. In 1984 just prior to the trading deadline the Chicago Bulls would trade Theus to the Kansas City Kings in a deal that many today refer to as a salary dump. That summer the team would draft North Carolina's Michael Jordan. The front office would then move out good players like Artis Gilmore, Charles Oakley and in 1987 swapped 5th and 8th picks with Seattle for Scottie Pippen of Central Arkansas and drafted (10th) Horace Grant of Clemson. The young nucleus of Jordan, Pippen and Grant would battle the NBA of the late eighties and in the 1990-91 season begin a string of three consecutive NBA titles.
As far as I am concerned Luol Deng is todays Reggie Theus, and moving forward the Bulls front office needs to draw from it's past and trade him away for hopefully a future draft selection that can bring a player for Rose's still developing young nucleus. I am confident that when all the dust clears Deng will not even be remember in the top 20 Bulls of all time. This is not meant to be disrespectful, but merely stating the facts as I see them.
Resigning Deng on the downside of his career to a long term deal would be a grave mistake and could cost the franchise what should become the Rose era in their history. So I am hopeful that a divorce is in the near future, and fill with delight to hear Deng bad mouthing the organization. I hope it is a sign that the end game is being worked out behind close doors. The numerous trade rumors that have accompanied Deng for most of his career in Chicago have to this point been all talk, but with only one $14.3 million dollar year remaining on his contract the clock is ticking for a decision on Deng. The organization will have to decide to either trade Deng by the February deadline or resign him to a long term extension. The decision on Deng will be connected to the future of Derrick Rose and of fans views of the franchise moving forward. The thought of the front office signing Deng just to buy more time to eventually trade him is scary, and it is in my opinion that if they do plan to sign him just to trade him in the near future they better have a team ready to take him, or it's better to get nothing and let him walk.