Ever since the Chicago Bulls’ season came to an end, trade rumors have swirled around some of the team’s stars. With The Finals over and the offseason already underway, talks surrounding players will only heat up.
Having spent nine seasons in the NBA, Luol Deng knows all about that reality. The 27-year-old forward has heard his name involved in trade rumors throughout his career, including recent weeks, and there have been several instances where a move sending him out of Chicago has appeared close.
However, Deng’s agent, Herb Rudoy, told RealGM.com on Sunday afternoon that the Bulls do not intend to deal Deng this offseason.
“The Bulls have indicated to me that they do not plan to trade him,” Rudoy said. “But as we know, anything is possible.”
In Deng’s mind he is fresh off the best season of his career, putting up averages of 15.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists while making his first All-Star appearance. Tom Thibodeau has repeatedly referred to Deng as the Bulls’ “glue” player, the versatile piece who was a major reason why the squad racked up the league’s best record for the second straight season. After a few rough playoff outings, Deng closed strong, dropping a combined 43 points and 25 rebounds in the final two games as the Bulls suffered a first-round defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Nevertheless, Deng has again found himself at the center of trade rumors. He has been linked to multiple teams that own top 10 picks in the draft, such as the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors. While a deal involving him seemed like a long shot, Deng admitted on Sunday that “there is always some extent truth to rumors,” according to a report from ESPN.
“As much as I want to stay on the team – I love Chicago, I love the Bulls – at the same time, I know the business part of it,” Deng added while preparing in Houston for this summer’s Olympics. “Sooner or later, all the rumors are going to come up.”
Deng’s heart and commitment remains with Chicago, but he has long made it clear that participating in the London Olympics means everything to him – as a person and an NBA player. Although his decision runs deeper than basketball, Deng has received backlash for representing the Great Britain national team while nursing a torn ligament in his left wrist.
Still, Deng will make good on his promise and will most likely need surgery to repair his wrist injury after the Olympics. The procedure could likely cause him to miss the first month or two of next season. It doesn’t appear that the Bulls are shopping Deng to send the message they are not on board with his decision, but the rumors have clearly made their way to Deng and his camp.
Over the past few months, Chicago general manager Gar Forman has said the team’s plans will not change moving forward: He and the rest of his brass are thinking long-term, especially since Derrick Rose will miss a significant portion of next season due to a torn ACL. For a Bulls team looking to the future, it would be counterintuitive – in many ways – to deal a small forward who is still young, shining as the team’s workhorse and top wing defender.