Bulls’ Deng “probably a week away” from returning


Jan 27

With a nationally televised marquee matchup against the Miami Heat looming on Sunday, speculation mounted this week that Bulls small forward Luol Deng could return from a wrist injury that afternoon.

However, Deng, speaking exclusively with BullsTV during BMO Harris Bank Pregame Live on Friday evening, didn’t sound very optimistic about that happening.

“It’s a day-by-day thing,” said Deng, who suffered the injury on Jan. 21 against the Charlotte Bobcats. “Right now, I’m probably a week away, maybe more. I really don’t know and it’s hard to tell. It’s definitely a bad injury, but I really believe that I’ll be back soon. I’m doing everything I can right now just to make sure I’m back soon enough.”

Deng, who hopes to avoid surgery and plans to let the injury heal a bit more prior to returning to action, wasn’t sure how the speculation began that he would return against the Heat on Sunday afternoon.

“I really don’t know where that came from,” said Deng of the reports. “I really said, ‘If I was able to go today, I would.’ If I’m able to go on Sunday, I’ll go, or whatever game I can. I don’t know where that date came from that I’d be back, but I’ve never put an exact date on it.

“I just know I’ve got to do whatever I can,” added Deng. “The fact that I’m avoiding surgery, I’ve got to make sure that I rehab and get this down so it doesn’t keep coming back. I don’t want it to be a recurring problem all year where I play a few games and then take time off. That’s what we’re really trying to avoid right now.”

As for the wrist itself, Deng said it continues to improve.

“Every day, I’ve been taking steps,” said Deng, averaging 15.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 38.3 minutes per game this season. “When it first happened, I had a hard time doing anything. But now, I’m able to do a lot more. I’m able to dribble a little bit and I’m out on the court. It’s really improving at a very fast rate and that’s what we want. Hopefully, I’m out there soon. It’s tough sitting down and I don’t want to do that.”

In the meantime, Deng said he’s doing his best to remain vocal while he sits on the Bulls bench, particularly late in games, whether it’s reminding teammates about time on the clock or simply encouraging them to bear down and do what it takes to win close games.

While he was disappointed to see his teammates fall to the Indiana Pacers in a close, physical game at the United Center on Wednesday, he echoes the words of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, saying he believes the Bulls have enough to win games in his absence.

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