Luol Deng and his injured left wrist have been key talking points around the Bulls organization since the season ended.
The front office wanted him to forgo the Olympics this summer and undergo surgery to repair the tendon damage sustained in January against the Charlotte Bobcats. But Deng’s furious devotion to Great Britain and his insistence to play for the country that adopted him took precedence, and he elected to compete instead of going under the knife.
On Monday, after the British won their first ever Olympic basketball game, Deng once again maintained his insistence to not have surgery on his wrist. He said he will instead play through the pain and whatever damage is there.
“Did I look like I needed [surgery]?” Deng told the Chicago Tribune after Great Britain’s win over China. “I’m fine right now. I feel great.”
Of course, there are a couple ways you can look at this.
The popular school of thought is an athlete knows his body better than anyone and you have to trust them when they say they’re ready.
In theory that makes sense, but last season Derrick Rose said he was ready to go a number of times after that fateful incidence of turf toe against Minnesota. The injury seemed to start a chain of lower extremity issues that – speculatively – led to him to tearing his ACL in the playoffs.
Deng may feel fine and let's not forget the injury is on his non-shooting hand. If his shooting percentage in the Olympics is any indication (31.4 percent), though, and considering he still can’t really drive with his left hand and has been injury prone for much of his career, having the surgery and sitting out a couple of months would be better for both himself and the team in the long run.
The other way to look at it is with Rose for certain to be out the first half of the season and more, Luol sees this as his shot to be the focal point of the offense.
The obvious speculation is that much of the offense next year will run through Carlos Boozer, and Deng – per usual – will become the forgotten man. But he’s confident enough to feel like he can put the Bulls over the hump until Derrick returns and in that confidence he most likely feels the team can’t win without him.
Maybe he’s right, but whatever the case, that wrist will still be injured once training camp starts. Having the surgery now makes more sense because if he injures it again, the initial two-month recovery prognosis had he undergone the procedure earlier will be a lot longer.