Rose is still out and Deng is hurt worse than we thought

Bulls fans should probably prepare themselves for the team’s 10th straight loss: Derrick Rose (sprained wrist) and Luol Deng (strained calf) will both miss tonight’s game against the Cavaliers. Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) is still out too.

I can’t argue the decision. Why risk your players’ health in a game that might not be winnable anyway? But the bad news — and it’s all been bad news lately, hasn’t it? — is that Deng’s injury might be worse than expected.

According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: “On the eighth day of his absence, Luol Deng revealed he originally was told he could miss one to three weeks with his strained right calf. Coach Vinny Del Negro then piled on by saying Deng suffered a setback Wednesday after trying to run on the injury both Tuesday and pregame Wednesday. Deng, limping noticeably in the Bulls’ locker room, missed his fourth straight game.”

Said Deng: “I’m still having trouble pushing off.”

Added Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro: “Lu’s a little sore. I’m concerned about all those situations. But they’re out of our control. We just have to heal up as fast as we can.”

“As fast as we can” might still be too late. For the playoffs, anyway.

Give Del Negro credit for keeping his cool. Although they aren’t his fault, all these injuries and Chicago’s subsequent fall from the top eight in th eEast might provide Bulls management with a ready excuse to hand him a pink slip after the season ends.

Deng’s injury is a bummer. Luol’s goal was to play in all 82 games this season. He wanted desperately to shed the “soft” label that has been slapped on him by fans (and even some experts) after two disappointing, injury-plagued seasons. Back in December, Deng broke his left thumbin practice, of all places — but played through it.

Back then, Deng said: “The injury is affecting me a lot, mostly my shot and dribbling, and there are times I’ve thought about not playing. … Last year when I was sitting (with a stress fracture in my right tibia), I made a commitment to play all 82 games this season. Even though it wasn’t my fault last year, I didn’t want anyone to say anything about me being soft anymore. That’s why I don’t want to take any game off all year. I just want to do my job.”

Unfortunately, he couldn’t do his job through this calf strain.

There are still people who question Deng’s mental and physical toughness, not to mention his worth. That’s what happens when someone receives an All-Star contract (six years at over $70 million) without quite delivering All-Star production. Although it’s worth noting that Deng’s output this season has nearly equaled what he did during his mythical 2006-07 season.

Deng has been solid (if not spectacular) all year. His shooting is only in the mid-40s — too many jump shots from 16-23 feet — but he’s given the team scoring, rebounding and sturdy defense at the SF position. Next to Vinny, Deng was probably the most criticized Bull coming into the season. Other than taking too many long jumpers (and maybe a lack of leadership), he hasn’t given fans many reasons to complain this season.

Now he’s hurt. Again.

Deng has played all 82 games only once in his six-year career, back in (not surprisingly) 2006-07. Mind you, he’s only 24, so these should be his healthiest years, right?

That’s nothing against Luol. I’ve seen him play too hard this season to question his desire. But some players struggle to stay healthy. It’s biology, not psychology. Going forward, I wonder if the Bulls will have to continue dealing with recurring absences for the duration of Deng’s contract. If so, they’d better start developing James Johnson. It would be nice to have a security blanket at SF.

Some people are wondering whether the Bulls have given up on the playoffs. I don’t think so. First off, unless Chicago wins the draft lottery or manages to lose enough games to (gulp) earn the 10th worst record in the league, the Bucks are going to switch draft picks with the Bulls (they have that right thanks to the John Salmons trade). So there probably won’t be much benefit to missing the postseason.

It seems more likely that, as I said above, the Bulls are simply waiting out a tough stretch of games that would have been tough to win even with a healthy roster. If the team had gone all out to win these games but lost anyway and someone got hurt even worse, that would have cost the team a chance of making a run down the stretch.

It’s all about gambles. The Salmons trade was part of the long-term gamble for landing a big name free agent this summer (although the draft pick switch is going to sting). Holding players out, in addition to putting their health above winning, seems to be part strategy. I have no idea whether it will work. I guess we’ll find out in the next few weeks.

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23 Responses to Rose is still out and Deng is hurt worse than we thought

  1. Ryan March 19, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    I love Luol and I think that he is a great system player, but can we finally call him Elijah or Mr. Glass? I am starting to notice that he takes a long time to heal or he has had some untimely/unfortunate injuries. What about trading Lu for a guy like Rudy Gay if possible?
    I would love nothing more than to see Deng, Rose, and Noah with a top talent player, but if they can’t stay healthy next year then this year’s gamble will have been for nothing.

  2. Ryan March 19, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    The Bulls still have a legitimate chance to make a climb. I anticipate 2 of the 3 injured players (Rose and Luol) to come back on 3/25 against the Heat leaving 12 games to make one last run. 5 of those games will be against Miami, Charlotte (twice), Milwaukee, and Toronto. We also play NJ twice, Detroit, and Washington in that span. If they can string some wins together, maybe they consider bringing Noah back? It will be the last opportunity, and a 5-6 game run could make the difference to even challenge a 6 or 7 seed. Gotta worry about Cleveland tonight though. C’mon Flip!

    bobbysimmons March 19, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    I like the optimism Ryan, but I think it’s about time to give up on this season, we’re not a talented enough team to make up that much ground once everyone eventually gets healthy and who knows when that is.

    I wish they were more upfront about Luol’s injury, from what I understood he had a calf strain, which shouldn’t keep you out that long. I find that they Bulls try to hide their injuries and are not upfront with the fans, which leaves everyone guessing.

    The Bulls will probably realizes soon that they have no chance to make the playoffs so they will deactivate Deng, Miller, Taj, Noah for the rest of the season in hopes of landing the 8th or 9th lottery pick, because if we get 10th, that would just be a complete waste.

    bobbysimmons March 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    I just read that the Bulls pick must be outside of the top 10 for the Bucks to swap, which means that the Bulls could actually get the 10th pick and keep it. So if they make it to the lottery, even if they are the 11-13th worst team in the league, they still have a slight chance, albeit ridiculously slim to land a top three pick. Also to be in the spot of the actual 10th worst team, we’d have to surpass the Clippers who currently hold that dubious title. The Bulls are 31-36, Clips are 26-43. If you estimate the Clips win between 4-7 games of the 13 they have remaining, and estimate the Bulls 1-2 of our remaining 15, then it might work, but that looks very unlikely.

    What seems more likely is that the Bulls will miss the playoffs, land the 11th pick and swap it to Milwaukee for the 18th pick. Round of applause for Bulls management for landing us in the absolute worst of all outcomes.

  5. TexasBullsFan March 19, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    Yes, please, round of applause to the Bulls management for not taking into account the fact that our entire starting lineup would get injured all at once.

  6. Ryan March 19, 2010 at 6:12 pm #


    Are you serious? Toronto and Miami are playing just as bad WITH their All Stars and the Bobcats aren’t exactly a Championship contender. I heard the same thing last year right before Bulls won 9 of the last 12 to barely get an 8 seed. If the season is over, then why are you still on the site? It seems like you are patiently waiting for the offseason. Go ahead and shut yourself down for the remainder of the season as well.
    It is very hard to root for my team to tank it just to earn a slightly higher pick. What big name should we pick up with a 11-18th pick – Cole Aldrich, or how about Harangody? So the Bulls make trades and pick up expiring contracts for the FA’s next year just to tank it to get a few picks higher in the draft. Sounds like you and Pax are on the same page. Applause.

    bobbysimmons March 19, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

    Hey people I’m just trying to keep it real. If you can’t admit that management blew it at the trade deadline, you’re living in a fantasy world. And btw I won’t give Bulls management props after 10+ years of futility until we actually make a decent run in the playoffs.

    As for the Bulls making it to the playoffs, with a 31-36, soon to be 31-37 record, they’ll need a 10-4 record for the rest of the season just to get back to 500, which is pretty tall order considering Noah is likely done for the season, and who knows how long Deng will be out. I mean, let’s be honest here, Bulls losing streak will reach 10 tonight, and all of a sudden you expect them to play very well for the rest of the season? You have to realize when your hand is not good enough and it’s time to fold. I’m at peace now with the Bulls not making the playoffs, you guys should resolve yourselves too, otherwise you’ll end up be disappointed. And who says I can’t stick around for the rest of the season and bash on the management for their mistakes? There’s still joy in that isn’t there? If I’m wrong and the Bulls make the playoffs this year, I’ll shut up. I’d prefer to be pleasantly surprised rather than being let down.

  8. Ryan March 19, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    I won’t be let down if they don’t make the Playoffs. I anticipated a rough end of the season once Noah went out. I knew at the beginning of the year they would be unloading contracts to have enough room for FA’s. As Texas mentioned – Did management plan on Noah, Rose, and Deng being injured? I would rather be a Bulls fan through good and bad rather than a typical fairweather fan that only gives praise when all is well – then bash them once the ‘season is over’ – Do you think your comments go to Gar Forman’s desk? I respect your right to talk trash about whoever you would prefer. You mentioned, “You have to realize when your hand is not good enough and it’s time to fold.” Do you normally fold and put all of your chips in the pot with it – in other words ‘Give up?’ You want to throw away the season just to get a few picks higher in a weak draft when we are 2.5 games back. I imagine Wade would respect that, or Bosh would appreciate a team losing games on purpose.

  9. Ryan March 19, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    “I’d prefer to be pleasantly surprised rather than being let down.”

    I think you meant, “I would rather be blindly right than wrong.”

    dlouis March 19, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

    Look at it this way. If we sign a major FA this summer, no one should complain about the Salmons trade. It is the price we had to pay to have the ability to get someone. I’m not going to pass judgement on it until free agency this summer. If we end up with someone like David Lee or Rudy Gay, then I will be disappointed.

    I’m with Ryan, who knows what the Raptors, Heat or Bobcats will do down the stretch. The Heat are one injury away from the Nets, the Raptors have lost 8 of their last 10 with everyone healthy, and would anyone be surprised if the Bobcats completely imploded? It’s not like we have been playing that poorly either. The bench is playing tough basketball. Granted they’re losing, but they are playing hard and that’s all that matters when you have no chance of winning.

    inkybreath March 20, 2010 at 12:11 am #

    At this point, anyone can give on this season. I do not agree that the management deserves bashing, especially when they have been simply awful in the recent past. What were the options? What could they have done better this trade season? Hell, the Milwaukee trade, as first reported, looked a lot worse than what turned out to be. So, what was their thinking process supposed to be? How were they supposed to be free to make any trades under the idea that this season would go as it has? They made good trades and put the responsibility on the professionals rostered on this team. Let’s not forget that whatever Bulls team that may have or will make the playoffs would get disbanded at the end of the year. This year is not part of the continuity of the current identity. Hell, the half the league is going to be re-born next year, for better or worse.

    bobbysimmons March 20, 2010 at 12:39 am #

    Miami was the master of blowing their season two years ago in hopes for the top pick, they literally played D-League players for half the season and basically shut down everyone else for rest, so no I don’t think Wade, for one, would disrespect that.

    I think all of us are Bulls fans here and want what’s best for our team. I’m glad all of you have optimism and think management is doing a great job, and honestly I hope the best for the Bulls too. But the way I see the schedule and our current position I give the Bulls only a very slim chance of coming back, others may see the same schedule and give us a strong chance, just different points of view. And since I personally don’t see us making the playoffs I would rather the Bulls have the 10th pick than the 18th.

  13. david g March 20, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    im pretty happy that all the sudden, deng is gonna shut down for longer. there really isn’t any reason to go full out this season. anybody that knows ball knows us bulls got great upcoming talent that’s fresh and is just a piece or 2 away from being an elite team. even though it would be nice to have a lottery pick, the reason im a fan of tanking the rest of this year is to make sure our stars are healthy as possible for next year.

    i wish we could just be open about tanking and play our stars sparingly every few games to keep them nba game minded. i also agree with texasbulls about us not possibly being able to see that our whole team was going to have injury troubles. i really like these rent-a-bulls. all of them are showing class and stepping in. i guess they are also using this opportunity to try-out for the whole league, but they seem very professional about it all. come to think of it, maybe the bull’s main fault is that they got these guys that won’t quit, making our nose dive into the standings harder to do

  14. david g March 20, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    p.s- i’ve always despised the idea of losing on purpose for better draft picks. even during the ron mercer era. not that there’s no hope, just no point

  15. Ryan March 20, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    It is called ‘rooting for your team.’ I don’t care if they are 15 games back with 5 games left in the season – I will still root for the Bulls to win the basketball game. How did “laying down” work for the Heat – I don’t see any more rings for Wade? Was Beasley really worth it? If you are worried about moving up 6-8 picks in the draft in a summer that has been lauded as one of the best Free Agency classes EVER – you are focused on the wrong idea. I am not worried about the 2010 draft when the two rookies we have from last year are solid and we are looking to add a Superstar player. I guess I will agree to disagree with you.

    ricardo March 20, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    The Bulls management deserves bashing. I know this is an awful time for the fans and that finger pointing is another downer. However, I’ve been sick of Pax for a long time. The string of bad decisions, did anyone actually talk to Thomas to get a read on the kid’s attitude? Did the offensive liability known as Hinrich warrant his mammoth contract? Couldn’t Pax have negotiated a better trade with the Bucks? Bottom line, the season’s over. Pax’s GM career should end too if they are unable to get the piece the team needs — Chris Bosh.

  17. chad March 21, 2010 at 2:25 am #

    acie law needs to play as much as flip

  18. chad March 21, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    Northern Iowa 2010 NCAA champs

    inkybreath March 21, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    **for anyone who says they don’t want David Lee … his line tonight: 27 pts, 20 reb, 6 ast … he and Noah would be a devastating rebounding combo and his deluxe two-handedness under the basket would more than offset Noah’s (ever-diminishing) awkwardness. Our fast-break would be redonkulous, and so forth**

    Boppinbob March 22, 2010 at 2:25 am #

    Withot a fully healthy line-up for the playoffs the Bulls will be cannon fodder for the first round. I do not care if the Bulls make the playoffs this year with the current situation. Take time to bring back Deng and sit Noah for the balance of the year. Learn/see what Law, Alexander, Warrick, Murray and Johnson can do with extended playing time. As a fan I do not want to see Pargo, James, Richard or Brown back. I would love to keep Miller if it can be done on the cheap, or better yet as a coach for the “big men”. The Bulls are going to need role players to come off the bench, Law, Alexander, Warrick, Murray and Johnson may be able to fill those roles. I see Murray, Johnson and Warrick getting more PT but Law and Alexander are not getting much time. I would hate to go into the off season and not know if these guys have the potential to contribute next year. Gar and Pax need to insure that Murray, Johnson, Warrick, Law and Alexander get enough playing time to allow evaluation of their potential to contribute as role players next season. I am a little disappointed in the amount of time this group is getting.

    Brad S. March 22, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    I am with you Boppin’, especially Johnson, Law and Alexander. I think Flip Murry and Hakeem Warrick are known entities, but it never hurts to get them some minutes just for team unity. Pargo shouldn’t see the floor again this season.

  22. Ryan March 22, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Why give the bench all of this playing time to see their ‘potential’ when they will more than likely be gone next season? That was the reason we picked up these players – for their expiring contracts. We may keep 2-3 players between Warrick, Murray, Law, Alexander, Richard, Brown, Johnson, Miller, and even Hinrich. I can understand Miller and Hinrich – they are proven played within the Bulls’ system. It will depend on the contacts that are set up for the free agents. The Bulls won’t benefit if Warrick and Murray average 30 points and 20 rebounds a game – their contracts expire at the end of the season.
    If the Bulls planned to tank it, why bring Noah and Rose back now? I think they understand they have a chance to still make the playoffs. 10-15 days from now, I might be able to wrap my head around losing games. Not now with the amount of games left to play and how close we are to the 8th spot.

    Boppinbob March 23, 2010 at 4:28 am #

    Ryan, if the Bulls make the playoffs it will be in the eighth spot. That will mean they play the Cavs. If everyone was healthy they might win a couple of games. But they will not advance. Since not everyone will be healthy it will be a blow out series. We don’t learn much about the “bodies” that we have. I know that James and Richard will not be back. I do not want to see Pargo back, his strengths do not fit the Bulls needs. Devon Brown should be gone. As I fan I want to know if Acie Law and/or Joe Alexander hve anything to offer as potential role players for next season. Both Gibson and Johnson will be with the Bulls next season unless they are traded. Gibson has established that he can contribute. Johnson looks like he might be able to contribute. Warrick looks like he can contribute. Give Law Pargo’s time and let’s find out what he can do. Give alexander 15 minutes a game to see if he has anything. Don’t just dump them without seeing what they can do. That is part of building a franchise/championship team. I really do not care if the Bulls make the playoffs this year. I do care that they fully evaluate the players on their roster and determine who can contribute as starters and role players in the future. I believe that the Bulls will be able to add 1 to 2 free agents (I hope it might be Bosh and Lee). I believe that we should keep Murray and I would like to see more of what Law can do, he has shown flashes of promising performances, but has not had the opportunity to show if he can be consistent. If we do land Bosh and Lee then we can draft a big 2 guard/shooting guard who can play defense. That would allow the Bulls to go 9, 10 or 11 deep almost every game. I believe that would put the Bulls 2 to 3 years from a championship if the injury bug does not rear its ugly head.

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