Luol Deng is a two-time All-Star member of the Chicago Bulls, and an important part of what the team does on both ends of the floor on a nightly basis.
But he’s in the final year of his contract, and the Bulls have been unwilling to discuss an extension to this point, meaning that Deng is playing in a contract year and could be gone once the season is over as he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
We’ve heard throughout the process that Deng would prefer to remain in Chicago, and he reiterated those comments before Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers.
From ESPN Chicago:
“I definitely want to stay here,” Deng said Wednesday at the morning shootaround before the Bulls’ game at Indiana. “I would love to play here my whole career.”
Despite his desire, Deng understands he may not get his wish. With the Bulls refusing to discuss an extension with Deng this summer, the small forward will become a free agent in 2014. …
“I’ve seen players in the past who wanted to stay with their team and it didn’t work out,” said Deng, who has played only for the Bulls since being drafted by Phoenix and traded to Chicago on a draft-night deal in 2004. “At the end of the day, I can’t control that.”
What Deng is saying is only true to a certain extent, but the sentiment is understandable.
If he were to agree to stay in Chicago for a contract less than what he could earn elsewhere on the open market, there’s a pretty solid chance that the organization would welcome him back with open arms.
But if Deng is seeking another payday in the neighborhood of the max deal he may be able to receive by signing elsewhere, then he’s right — the chances of staying with the Bulls at that point begin to diminish fairly rapidly.
Deng could choose to sign a long-term contract below market value to stay in Chicago if that’s truly what he wanted to do. But money talks, as do players’ actions, so we’ll see just how true these comments ring when Deng becomes a free agent at the end of the season.