There was no way Luol Deng was missing the 2012 Olympics in his adopted home of London. Nothing was going to stop him — not a long playoff run or a torn ligament in his wrist. The safe assumption for much of the summer as Deng fought the Bulls, the insurance company and his body was that Deng would play the 2012 Olympics and then undergo surgery for a torn ligament in his wrist. Again, Deng would not let injury take away his Olympic dream.
Now with questions about Derrick Rose's health for the 2013 season and, in addition, Joakim Noah sitting out the Olympics with his own injury, Deng may be willing to go a little longer without his surgery and help his team. The Bulls may be nervous about that decision, but probably not as much as they were before the London Olympics.
The Bulls were happy that Deng had no incident to make his wrist injury worse. And now Deng is saying he will be ready to play when the season starts because he is planning to postpone surgery to the end of the 2013 season, as he told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Did I look like I needed (surgery)? I'm fine right now. I feel great. There are a lot of things I want to improve in my game that I want to focus on. I want to be a better player than I was last year.
I have time to make decisions and be healthy by the time we start (training camp).
Deng completed his run with Great Britain at the Olympics without any incident, helping Team GB to a landmark 90-58 win over China in the team's preliminary round finale. It was the only win for Great Britain in the Olympics and the country's first Olympic basketball win since 1948.
Deng had only six points in that landmark win and averaged only 15.8 points per game during the five games — pouring in two 26-point efforts against Spain and Russia. For Deng and Great Britain, it was more of a ceremonial host appearance for the country in men's basketball. The sport is still getting its introduction to the British culture. The past week and a half of basketball should do much more work than the Nets-Raptors games two years ago in London did.
But Deng has a day job to think of. That was probably the Bulls' biggest worry during the Olympics. As Johnson writes, surgery at this point would almost certainly knock Deng out for training camp, which is an interminable eight weeks away from now.
Chicago seems like it will have Deng back in time for training camp to start. Although it is not quite certain what shape he, and more importantly his wrist, will be in for training camp. Deng has had something of a star-crossed history with injuries these last few years. Last year, he played 54 of the 66 games after tearing a ligament in his wrist in January. He averaged only 15.3 points per game in 39.4 minutes per game. His scoring average was the lowest since a broken arm knocked him out for nearly half the season in 2009.
With Rose likely out until at least January, the Bulls may rely even more on Deng on the offensive end. Deng has had his turn as the first option and primary offensive option for Chicago in the past and never really engendered confidence that he could be the long-term option there. And that was when he was healthy.
Chicago likely will rely even more on Deng and Carlos Boozer to carry the team through the first half of the season and until Rose is really ready to come back.
If Deng's injury gets worse, Chicago might really be in trouble.