Bulls

Deng at a crossroads with ailing wrist

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Deng at a crossroads with ailing wrist

Its been evident for a while now, from how it affects his ballhandling to his declining rebounding totals. Luol Dengs left wrist is bothering him.

Privately, hell admit it, saying quietly, It hurts, even after wins or nights when he puts up big numbers. But turn on a camera or a tape recorder and hell claim its fine, even with a huge ice pack on it in the locker room.

At least until Thursday night. Dengs numbers five points on 1-for-9 shooting werent strong, but while his versatile, all-around game cant be judged by statistics alone, it was clear that the torn ligaments in his left wrist have taken their toll, as he could be seen conferring with the teams trainers on the sidelines.

I hate talking about my wrist, he began. Im going to talk with the medical staff and Thibs. The past few games, its escalated a little bit. Got to kind of bring it down again. Just managing it the last few games, Ive been trying to avoid it and everything, but its been a tough one.

Deng declined to have surgery to repair the injury and now insists hell stick to that plan, despite the pain he deals with on a daily basis.

I said it from the start: Im not taking that route. I think mostly its going to be rest, but its getting better. Its definitely better than when I first did it and when I first came back, he said. There was a period of time when it felt great. The last I dont know how many games the pain was kind of high again. Just got to kind of control it and monitor it.

On the court, while hes shot the ball well from long range especially in clutch situations and has even had games where his production is obvious, such as back-to-back 20-point, 10-rebound games in Derrick Roses absence, from dribbling the ball with his left hand to snatching rebounds with two hands, the injurys impact on him has been noticeable as of late.

Its a lot of stuff. It is what it is, he acknowledged. Ive just got to find ways to adjust my game. Ive proved that I can play with it. I know I can play with it. Its just that some days its going to feel great, some days its going to feel terrible. Just got to bring it down.

Still, even with the injury, Deng has been able to impact the game as a defender, offensive facilitator and general source of stability for the Bulls, something that hasnt gone unnoticed by his coach.

I dont get wrapped up in the shooting, said Tom Thibodeau. Theres going to be some nights he doesnt shoot it as well, but what we count on him every night is his defense, playmaking, toughness and hes shown he has the capability of playing well when hes not shooting well, as does every player on our team and thats what we have to recognize. When its not going our way, theres still other ways we can help our team and thats what we have to do.

Since the first-time All-Star silently guts it out most of the time, it might come as a surprise to his teammates that the iron man is even considering the possibility of rest to alleviate the pain.

Tonight I think he was grabbing it a little bit, but he still played, said Rose, who has dealt with his own share of ailments this season. I dont really know how hes feeling right now, but I know he should be able to play through it.

Not only will Deng have to play through it for the rest of the regular season and an expected deep playoff run, as the face of Great Britains national team, hell also have to suit up in the Olympics for the host country. But while it wont get easier any time soon, this is a decision he clearly pondered before opting not to have surgery and should be remembered when he endures occasional struggles.

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

The NBA preseason has finished and teams are finalizing their rosters before the beginning of the regular season.

For the Bulls, that meant claiming Tyler Ulis off waivers and signing him to a two-way contract.

The Athletic's Shams Charania first reported the move.

Ulis, a product of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, was waived by the Warriors on Friday. He spent two years at Kentucky before getting drafted in the second round by the Phoenix Suns in 2016.

In two years with the Suns, Ulis made 58 starts and played in 132 games. He averaged just over 7 points per game in both seasons. Last season, Ulis also averaged 4.4 assists per game against 1.8 turnovers in 23.4 minutes per game.

The Suns waived Ulis after the season and the Warriors signed him for the preseason. He averaged 3 points and 1.5 assists per game in four preseason games with the Warriors.

The two-way contract means Ulis could be spending more time with the Windy City Bulls than at the United Center on game days, but backup point guard is a question mark for the Bulls. Cam Payne looks like he will get first crack at the role behind Kris Dunn with Denzel Valentine injured. Ryan Arcidiacono just made the team and could also figure into point guard minutes.

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Cuts during the NBA preseason aren’t exactly as gut-wrenching and tension-filled as they are in the NFL. NBA teams cut from somewhere in the late teens down to 15, and the potential for two-way contracts exist for those players who don’t make the roster. But for Ryan Arcidiacono, Saturday was filled with angst as he waited for a call. It never came.

“I was thinking about it. It’s like Hard Knocks when you’re watching. You don’t want to get that phone call,” Arcidiacono said Sunday before practice. “I was just thinking to myself after the game (Friday), nobody said anything to me. I was talking to (assistant) Pete (Myers) and he said, ‘Just get outta here, man. I’ll see you at practice on Sunday.’ I was still a little nervous on Friday night. Saturday morning I felt better after I talked to my agent and everything became more official.”

It’s quite the journey for Arcidiacono, who spent time both with the Bulls and their G-League affiliate in Hoffman Estates last season. In 37 starts with the Windy City Bulls, Arcidiacono averaged 13.9 points and 8.5 assists in 39.6 minutes. His two longest stints in Chicago came in late January and at the end of the year, and that 24-game audition was enough for the Bulls to re-sign him in July.

Arcidiacono found more comfort this summer in Year 2 with the Bulls. Though his playing time in the preseason was limited he showed enough in camp to warrant a spot on the roster. It also helped that the Bulls find themselves thin at the point guard position behind Kris Dunn, with Cameron Payne struggling and Denzel Valentine on the mend with an ankle injury.

“I think last year really helped me with the two-way, getting acclimated with what Fred wants to do,” he said. “I think getting up and down with the G League. (Head coach) Charlie (Henry) really helped me a lot. Knowing our point guard situation, I just tried to be the hardest playing guy on the floor anytime I step on and the rest will take care of itself.”

It’s unknown whether Arcidiacono’s stint in Chicago will last. His contract will be guaranteed on January 10. He’s an important body for now with Lauri Markkanen out for the foreseeable future and Valentine still recovering from his own injury. But he’ll also have the opportunity to push Payne for that back-up role. Payne struggled much of the preseason, averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 assists on just 25 percent shooting.

“Arci has done a lot of really good things,” Hoiberg said. “I liked the way he looked in the game the other night off the ball. Defensively, made some really good solid plays and again, when there’s an open man on the court Arci’s gonna find him.”

He won’t move the needle on the Bulls’ season, and his minutes will likely be minimal once the season begins. But for now it’s a great story of persistence that gives the Bulls another hard-working body in practice.”

“Whatever our team needs, that’s what they’ll get from me,” he said. “Whether that’s being a backup or the third point guard spot, I’m just here to compete and make our team better and hopefully get us some victories.”