Luol Deng has chosen not to extend his contract with the Chicago Bulls and will be looking to explore free agency next summer. As most Bulls fans probably recall, Deng suffered with complications from a spinal tap last season and was sorely missed in the playoffs. While Deng seems to be happy playing in Chicago, he is not particularly happy with how the team’s medical staff took care of him last season, according to his agent Herb Rudoy.
“We never negotiated,” Rudoy said Friday. “We had several meetings. One was to discuss the medical care he got, or did not get, after his spinal tap [in May], which was of great concern to him.”
Deng missed the last two games of the Bulls’ first-round series against Brooklyn and all of Chicago’s East semifinal series against the Heat after suffering debilitating headaches following a spinal tap that was taken to determine whether he had developed meningitis. But he was upset that the Bulls’ team physicians accompanied the team to Miami for the start of the series, leaving him alone in a Chicago hospital as he lost 15 pounds and became violently ill as spinal fluid leaked into his body. Deng was sick for weeks afterward.
“And we had another meeting to discuss whether they would discuss a contract,” Rudoy said. “He [Forman] called me a week or two ago and decided they did not want to discuss a contract and that it would have to wait until after the season. I told them they’d have to wait until after July 1, because he would have to see what the market is, and that he would become a free agent. And I couldn’t promise he wouldn’t sign somewhere else. Now, he loves being there, and he loves playing for [coach Tom] Thibodeau. Loves playing for him. But he has to see what the market is.”
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Deng will be leaving the team next summer, but it’s certainly a possibility. Deng has been a huge part of what the Bulls have built over the last couple of years, as he has been instrumental to the team’s excellent defense and a good complement offensively.
Deng will be able to explore what his market value is this upcoming summer and, barring any injuries, it should be relatively high. As David Aldridge points out, the Bulls still have the option to amnesty Carlos Boozer, and if Deng’s contract would be off the books as well, the team could pursue some top talent in free agency.
One way or another, it’s impossible to predict what will happen once 2014 NBA free agency officially gets underway but we will be in for a fun ride.