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Report: Thibodeau not happy Deng could walk after season

Sep 18, 2013, 10:52 AM EDT

Luol Deng AP

While everyone around the Bulls plays it down, let’s just say it’s accepted as fact around the rest of the league that coach Tom Thibodeau and Bulls GM Gar Forman (and the rest of the front office) don’t see things the same way. There is naturally some tension in any coach/GM relationship — a coach wants assets he can win with now, a GM has to think cap and budget and three years down the road — but Chicago’s relationship has some real issues.

The latest issue could be Luol Deng.

The Bulls cut off contract extension talks with him and Deng is going to test free agency next summer. Thibodeau sees Deng as central to his system and the team.

So, tension follows. Joe Cowley at the Sun Times adds some color to this.

But at least one source feels that would change if forward Luol Deng is traded or allowed to walk into free agency without an extension next summer.

“Ask Tom how important he thinks Luol is,’’ the source said. “How happy do you think he would be with that decision?…”

“You need rebounding, he’ll give you rebounding,’’ Thibodeau said of Deng late last season. “If he’s not shooting well, he gives you great defense. No matter how the game is going, he’s always going to be there late for you, no matter if it’s pick-and-roll offense, swinging the ball, moving without the ball, making a great random cut from the weak side. He has great impact on winning. You can’t ask anything more of one of your best players.’’

Bulls management has looked at the Heat, the Thunder and other top teams around the league and seemed to be aiming for clearing out some space to add another elite player next to Rose. If Deng walks and they amnesty Carlos Boozer, they Bulls will have the cap space to target the deep crop of free agents this summer expected to include everyone from LeBron James (not likely to land in Chicago) to guys like Danny Granger and Zach Randolph. It’s a deep class, but it’s also a risk in trying to get a guy on the open market. The Bulls could also see what they could get in return for a Deng trade.

Thibodeau also knows he hadn’t seen what this group of players can do healthy in the playoffs — they were just hitting their stride and seemed destined for a showdown with the Heat two seasons ago when Derrick Rose injured his knee. Now this one season will become the test of how good this Bulls rotation will be.

It may also be the one and only time we get to see it. Which isn’t likely to make Thibodeau happy.

  1. lmoneyfresh - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    I love Thibs as a coach but he’s not the GM for a reason. If Deng is resigned for the numbers being thrown around, the team will be right back into cap hell. Deng is a nice piece but I just don’t see how the Bulls can keep him around. Sure he’s great defensively but he refused to fix his wrist and his offense has suffered because of it. The Bulls don’t need more defense, they need better offense to compete with the Pacers and Heat.

    • stayhigh_247 - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:14 AM

      thats all true, but if Deng walks are you going to get all the intangibles he brings in another player? business is business and i see him being traded near the trade deadline (depending on what they’re record is) for a player and maybe a 2nd round pick. Couple that with Boozers amnesty and the Bulls will be able to add some pieces. The problem with losing Deng, is you lose a guy that shows up every night, he’s a proven commodity. You dont know what you’re gonna get with new players you bring in. On the flip side, he may find that teams aren’t willing to pay him crazy money and comes back to Chicago for a reasonable price. At this point its all speculation.

      • lmoneyfresh - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        I don’t want to act like the team wouldn’t be losing something if Deng is traded/leaves for free agency. Sure he’s tough and plays great D but again that’s not what this team really needs. They have Butler who is arguably playing just as good as Deng and appears to have more potential offensively and they drafted Snell who is another player with a similar skillset and a higher upside offensively than Deng. I held on to the idea that Deng needs to be kept around but I just don’t see it happening with the money he wants, his health and the limited offensive ability he has. I say trade him and see what you can get in return. Sucks to see him go but I feel like resigning him would do more harm than good in the end.

  2. legend30 - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Please re-sign him, Bulls. This guy doesn’t show up during the playoffs. They would be wasting their money; sure he’s a nice player, but the Bulls should let him go and sign/trade for a elite player.

    • suckit619 - Sep 18, 2013 at 3:23 PM

      So I take it you’re not a Bulls fan

      • legend30 - Sep 19, 2013 at 12:22 AM

        He’s a good player, but they need to pair Rose up with a great player. Guys who actually show up when playing against the Heat. Bulls are close, but they need to make that next step.

  3. dvic13 - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    Due to Thibs penchant for running players into the ground, when I first read the title, I thought that thibs was upset because Deng, still had the ability to walk after a long season…lol

    • woodson312 - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      i wish i could give this 50 thumbs up lol

    • 00maltliquor - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      Yeah, that’s how I read it too! lol

  4. nycalldayz - Sep 18, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    I think Deng when healthy is one of the better 2-way wings in the league, but I’m not sure if the Bulls are willing to re-sign him especially with the upcoming 2014 free agency talent pool. Though it might be impossible for the Bulls landing guys like James, Wade, Melo, Bosh, Gay, Granger; the reality is they’re on the market.

  5. adoombray - Sep 18, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I’m with Thibs. Deng is a really underrated player who the Chicago fanbase irrationally hates on – and they irrationally love Butler. Butler is a great player, he really is, but Deng is your fill in the blank guy. He’s not a first option on Roses team, and he might not even be the second option, (for all the hate Boozer gets, he plays well with Rose, who uses Boozer as his “even I cant make this” outlet for easy paint points) but as your third banana, he’s going to give you whatever you need a little more of, scoring, defense, rebounding, guy you pass to to make your play work, etc.

  6. antistratfordian - Sep 18, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    I read this headline and thought Thibs was complaining about Deng faking some sort of injury last year. Heh.

    For some reason I have a recollection of Thibodeau not being an advanced stats type of basketball thinker – I think I remember reading a quote from last year where he kind of blew it off. This may explain his fascination with Deng, who is overrated and wildly overpaid – Rudy Gay style.

  7. suckit619 - Sep 18, 2013 at 3:22 PM

    I trust Thibs more than I trust Forman. I say fire Forman before Thibs walks….

  8. sw69ca - Sep 18, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    …and Deng said deng!

  9. sw69ca - Sep 18, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    Bulls should relocate to Seattle.

  10. im2gr84u2h8on - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    I see in the near future Deng getting traded for Granger.

  11. lhollis74 - Sep 18, 2013 at 11:58 PM

    Duh, a defensive minded coach losing his best perimeter defender, yeah he may be upset about that no matter how few points he scores. I mean, you do know they will have to Lebron at some point again.

  12. granzo - Sep 19, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Luol is a Bull for life. Period.

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