Watching Luol Deng try to play through a torn ligament in his left wrist, you have to admire his courage and dedication to his team. Question is, did Luol make the right decision by delaying surgery to repair the damage?
Initial reports had Deng needing somewhere between 3-4 months to fully recover and rehab the injury, which probably would have allowed him to return to action in mid-May, around the start of the second round of the playoffs. But Deng knew the Bulls had the look of a title contender and wanted to do whatever he could to contribute.
At times, Deng has looked like his old self, hitting clutch mid-range jump shots and playing his usual lock-down defense. But at other times, hes been reduced to a one-handed player who cant attack the basket like he did early in the season, and is prone to long streaks of cold shooting.
At this point, theres no choice but to play on, and Deng will give it everything he has in upcoming playoff battles against the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, and hopefully, Kevin Durant. But then comes another big decision: will Deng still need surgery to repair the damage to his left wrist, and if he does, will he wait until after the Olympics in August?
Deng is the face of basketball in England, where he spent most of his childhood. He desperately wants to represent his country in the upcoming London games, and is unlikely to agree to having any type of surgical procedure before the games are completed.
Theres also the question of whether surgery will be absolutely necessary. Some ligaments will heal on their own over time, and doctors really arent sure how Luols wrist will look after going through the NBA playoffs and the Olympics. But if Deng does need surgery sometime in September, he could easily miss the first two months of the next NBA season, something that has to be troubling to Bulls management.
Nothing has been decided at this point, but it certainly puts even more importance on the Bulls upcoming playoff run. With Derrick Rose battling through an injury-plagued season (and also hoping to play in the Summer Olympics), and Deng possibly needing wrist surgery, the Bulls title window might not be as wide open as it looked just a few months ago.
Miami has looked vulnerable at times, and the West appears wide open, so the Bulls' best chance at a title might be right now. If Rose and Deng were completely healthy, the Bulls would probably enter the postseason as favorites.
But now, injuries could play a critical role in deciding the next NBA champion, and the Bulls All-Stars might still be on the mend when the 2012-13 season tips off in November.