Deng out and Don Kojis isn’t walking through the door


Jan 24

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Shaler Halimon isn’t walking through the door. Kornel David isn’t walking through the door. Fabricio Oberto isn‘t walking through the door.

No, the Bulls and their gaudy 16-3 record are basically going to have to go with what they have, and that includes without Luol Deng for at least a few more games.

Deng and team officials confirmed Tuesday that Deng has a torn ligament in his left wrist suffered late in Saturday’s game against the Bobcats. So perhaps Tyrus Thomas did have his revenge.

In any case, it’s not season ending—or long delaying—at least yet, as Deng told reporters at the Berto Center Tuesday he will attempt to play through the injury after a bit of time for healing.

“It sounds terrible, but I’ll be fine,” Deng told assembled reporters. “I really feel like we have a very good chance of doing something special. I feel like without the surgery, I’ll be fine. I just know what I can do with it and what I can’t do. I really think I’m going to be very effective out there. There’s going to be days when it’s sore.”

The injury is to Deng’s left wrist, so it shouldn’t seriously affect his right handed shooting. The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant currently is playing with a similar, though not the same, injury to his right wrist. And, at least for now, Bryant’s biggest issue seems to be his elbow tiring from all the shots he’s taking.

Doctors generally recommend surgery with such injuries, though doctors tend to recommend surgery, based on at least my own observation.

Deng was told he wouldn’t do any more damage without surgery, though he will have pain. He’ll receive regular treatment. This also is the kind of injury that if left untreated can heal. There are records of people having such an injury and not knowing exactly what it is and it eventually healing.

Still, it can be very painful and more so in a contact sport and the possibility of surgery remains open.

If Deng were to have surgery, he’d probably miss about three months.

But Deng was mostly upbeat Monday at the Bulls game, and Tuesday when talking about his injury, almost as if he was trying to reassure media members.

“It could always be worse. Injuries happen,” he said. “It is what is. It’s just, ‘What do we do from here?’ I’m very confident I’ll be fine. When it happened, I knew it was something serious (even as he dismissed the severity later). It’s sore, but the soreness has gone down a lot in two days. I’ll keep treating it and see if I can get rid of the soreness and just try to be back there as soon as possible. I’m going to miss a few games. I don’t know how many, but I’m very confident the guys will be fine. As soon as I can be out there, I will be out there.”

Deng is averaging 15.9 points, second to Derrick Rose, along with 7.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in a team high 38.3 minutes per game. In many respects, he’s having his best season as a Bulls despite a lower scoring average given his all around play and is considered a good possibility to be selected by the Eastern Conference coaches for the All-Star team. Deng also hopes to play in the Olympics for Great Britain this summer.

Deng sustained a similar injury to his right wrist toward the end of his rookie season in 2004-05 and had surgery and missed the playoffs. Deng said having gone through a wrist injury he feels confident about dealing with it now.

Deng also sustained a stress fracture and missed much of the 2008-09 season. That marked the third season in his first five years he’d missed significant time due to injury, raising questions about his future. But the Bulls still signed him to a longterm extension. Deng played through March of 2009-10 before suffering a freak calf injury and missing time late in the season, and then last season he played every game and has become one of the most vital players on the team.

That he is continuing to play through the injury despite most likely various recommendations for surgery belies the one time questions about his willingness to compete, though Deng seemed to have put those well behind him with his play the last three seasons. Obviously, this all could end in surgery again as it is can be a difficult injury with which to play professional basketball, and especially in this grueling schedule.

Although coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t said, it’s possible Deng might get rested between games as teams around the league are doing with growing frequency with some of their main players. There have been a large number of injuries around the NBA this season and players sitting out games, and it looks to me, though I have no actual proof, that to counter the increased schedule some players are choosing to sit out an extra game or two before returning.

In some places with veteran players, it’s obvious and admitted, like with Tim Duncan with the Spurs.

Actually, I think that’s reasonable as there’s nothing wrong with usual reserves getting some playing time, and it should help the quality of play later in the season and into the playoffs as players pace themselves somewhat.

And it’s really not like there’s all that much complaining from the teams, and certainly not the Bulls.

I liked what Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters this week: “All this [complaining] about the compressed schedule is coming from you [media] guys, it’s not coming from me. I haven’t [complained] about it once. It’s a reality that we have to do our best with. The attitude you take towards it goes a long ways towards how you’re going to deal with it.”

Like Jerry Sloan always said, if you want to talk about hard work, he’ll talk about farming with you. Not playing basketball.

And contrary to some rumors floating around the internet Tuesday, the Bulls don’t have a deal with Oberto. Or, at this point, anyone else to add to the roster. It appears at this point the Bulls do not have any moves planned.

No, Granville Waiters isn’t walking through the door, either.

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