It’s a shame.
Deng was a very good player on some strong Bulls teams. He’s returning to Chicago to say goodbye.
Deng’s prime was cut short by health issues. He played hard in big minutes with Chicago, including deep playoff runs, and was never the same after leaving there.
But he made an All-Rookie first team then had eight more good seasons with the Bulls. He made two All-Star games, providing steady defense and nice complementary offense. We only remember Deng as leaving something on the table because he entered the NBA as a teenager and it feels like someone still so young should have continued to thrive.
As he began to decline, Chicago traded him to the mess that was the post-LeBron James Cavaliers. Then, Deng left for the post-LeBron Heat. Deng had some good moments in Miami, but his body was continuing to break down.
The four-year, $72 million contract in Los Angeles followed. He just couldn’t play effectively anymore. That wasn’t his fault. Blame should fall onto Mitch Kupchak and his crumbling regime for signing Deng to that deal. The Lakers bought out and stretched Deng, who will collect paychecks from them through 2022.
He spent last season with the Timberwolves, barely playing. At 34, he’ll return to the Bulls for what’s surely an unguaranteed contract then waiver.
Deng played 15 years in the NBA. His prime last eight years and peaked at All-Star status. Don’t dwell on the woulda/coulda/shoulda. Appreciate what’s in front of you.
That’s a fulfilling career.