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Source: Losing Luol Deng would upset Thibodeau

Luol Deng

Luol Deng

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Updated: September 17, 2013 6:44PM



It was easy to dismiss back in July.

“No, we’re fine,’’ Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said of the idea that there was a growing disconnect between coach and general manager after Gar Forman let lead assistant coach Ron Adams go. Adams was not only Thibodeau’s right-hand man, but also a close friend.

“As I tell our players, I tell everyone, we’re not looking backwards, we’re looking ahead, and we’re getting ready for next season,’’ Thibodeau said. “That’s all we’re thinking about.’’

Considering that Thibodeau and Forman were often seen talking shop during Summer League games in Las Vegas as if it was business as usual, maybe next season was all they were really “thinking about.’’

But at least one source feels that would change if forward Luol Deng is traded or allowed to walk into free agency without an extension next summer.

“Ask Tom how important he thinks Luol is,’’ the source said. “How happy do you think he would be with that decision?’’

Not very.

Then again, it would also depend on what the Bulls would get in return or if there was a bigger free agent whale to hunt down because of the salary that would be saved by allowing Deng to walk, as well as amnestying Carlos Boozer.

What can’t be downplayed, however, is with Bulls camp opening up Sept. 27, there is a very good chance that it will be Deng’s last one in the red and black.

Derrick Rose is undoubtedly the face of the franchise, but Thibodeau insisted a handful of times over the past two years that Deng “is the glue.’’

“You need rebounding, he’ll give you rebounding,’’ Thibodeau said of Deng late last season. “If he’s not shooting well, he gives you great defense. No matter how the game is going, he’s always going to be there late for you, no matter if it’s pick-and-roll offense, swinging the ball, moving without the ball, making a great random cut from the weak side. He has great impact on winning.

“You can’t ask anything more of one of your best players.’’

Three weeks ago, the Bulls notified Deng and his agent Herb Rudoy that they would no longer keep extension talks open, and according to Rudoy, it’s not a topic that Deng will be looking to discuss once the season starts.

So the game of chicken is well underway.

NOTE: The Bulls announced several promotions on Tuesday, starting with Randy Brown going from special assistant to the GM to assistant GM. European scout Ivica Dukan was promoted to Director of International Scouting/special assistant to the GM, while Nick Papendieck was promoted to head strength coach from assistant.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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