Luol Deng mum on contract talk
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter September 27, 2013 10:12PM
Chicago Bulls Luol Deng (9) collides with Brooklyn Nets Andray Blatche (0) during the second quarter at the United Center in Chicago, Ill., on Saturday, April 27, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 29, 2013 6:16AM
Luol Deng finally spoke Friday about his pending free agency, and his message was clear: It’s not a topic for discussion.
“I’m going to try not to talk about it, and I’m going to try and do it in a nice way,’’ the Bulls forward said. “I’ll try not to be rude. But honestly, I would rather not talk about it. I would rather play. It is a situation where you sign a contract and it ends. I’m in my last year, so I’ve just got to go out there and do what I’ve been doing, play basketball.
“We’ve got a great opportunity ahead of us. Derrick [Rose] is back [from injury], everybody is healthy, we love the makeup of the team, we know our potential is great. So I just have to focus on us as a team and how good we can be, and I think everything will take care of itself. I know it’s going to come up here and there. There is always individual stuff, but honestly, I just want to put all my attention into the team and then see what happens after that.’’
Transparency hasn’t been Deng’s strength the last five months. He was mum about a spinal-tap procedure gone wrong last May that cost him the final two games of the playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets and the entire series against the Miami Heat.
Deng’s agent, Herb Rudoy, hasn’t been as close-mouthed as his client. He said that the Bulls ended contract talks at the start of September and that Deng would test the market after the season.
General manager Gar Forman doesn’t anticipate Deng’s contract situation becoming a distraction. Deng is owed $14.3 million this season.
“Luol Deng has been a very important part of what we’ve built up to this point and any success that we’ve had,’’ Forman said. “And he will continue to be a big part of what we’re doing into the future.
“I don’t anticipate that there will be any type of problems with that at all. Luol and I talked [Thursday]. I think he’s in a great place both physically and mentally.’’
Center Joakim Noah said the plantar fasciitis that hampered him most of the second half of last season is in the past. The goal is to make sure it stays there.
“I feel great, my feet feel great,’’ Noah said. “I’m 100 percent healthy, and I’m so excited for this year. This is what it’s all about, being in the position right now to have our team healthy at the start of camp. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I feel like this is our time.’’