DEERFIELD, Ill. – Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng hopes he won’t need surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist.
Deng was injured in the fourth quarter Saturday against Charlotte and figures to miss at least a few more games after sitting out Monday’s win over the New Jersey Nets. He said the wrist is still sore, but the pain has eased “a lot” the past few days.
“I know it’s a bad injury and it sounds terrible, but really, I think it will fine,” Deng said Tuesday. “We’ve got a good team, and I think I’m going to be fine.”
Even so, surgery remains a possibility, and coach Tom Thibodeau said he is “week to week.” He said Deng did some dribbling with his left hand and shooting at practice on Tuesday, although Deng disputed that.
One thing that can’t be argued is this.
Losing Deng for an extended time would be a blow for the Bulls even though they’ve dealt with their share of injuries while building a league-best 16-3 record. A key contributor on both ends, he’s averaging 15.9 points per game and 7.5 rebounds, but Chicago has been playing through bumps and bruises all season.
Richard Hamilton has been limited by a groin problem in his first season with the Bulls, and Derrick Rose missed four straight games because of a sprained left big toe that could be an issue for him the rest of the season. Taj Gibson has missed the past two games because of a sprained left ankle. Joakim Noah sat out Saturday with a similar injury.
Now, Deng’s out. For how long? That depends on his pain tolerance.
“I’m just trying to get it down to a certain level where I can play again,” Deng said. “I’m really confident in the fact that I’ll be out there, hopefully soon.”
Deng said he opted against surgery for now after consulting with doctors because he believes the Bulls “have a very good chance of doing something special” and he believes he will be fine without it. Besides eyeing a deep playoff run, he’s also set to play for Great Britain in the London Olympics this summer.
He sidestepped the question when he was asked how much time he would need to recover from surgery, saying he didn’t want to think about it, but he might need an operation if the wrist flares up after he returns.
“I feel like without the surgery, I’ll be fine,” he said. “I just know that I can do with it and what I can’t do. I’m going to be very effective out there. There are going to be days where it’s sore. We’re going to try control (the pain). Everybody’s body responds differently. I’m fairly confident that I’ll be able to handle it.”
Deng suffered the same injury to his right wrist late in his 2004-05 rookie year and had season-ending surgery. Dr. Susan Craig-Scott performed the operation back then and consulted with him this time, but one difference is this one is to his non-shooting hand.
“There have been a number of players that have played with it,” Thibodeau said. “Again, it’s your comfort level. It’s your pain tolerance. All those things factor into it.”