(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
News broke swiftly and depressingly on Tuesday as the severity of Luol Deng's injury was announced, a ligament tear on his left wrist meaning at the least missing the next few games, but most likely being a concern the rest of the season.
Courtesy of the Trib here's the lengthiest video (not embeddable, sorry) I could find of Luol Deng discussing the injury. And the Sun-Times has the bulk of the quotes. For his part, the guy sounds matter-of-fact and confident, referencing the same 2005 injury on his other wrist:
This time around I'm familiar with it. It's on my left which is not like having it on my right (or shooting hand). I know how it feels pain-wise and am just trying to get it down to a certain level where I can play again. I'm really confident in the fact that I'll be out there. Hopefully soon, but I'll be out there...I really feel like we have a very good chance of doing something special and I feel like without the surgery I'll be fine. I know what I can do with it and what I can't do. I really think I'm going to be really effective out there. There will be days when it's sore. We'll try to control how sore it gets. Everybody's body responds differently to it. But I'm very confident I'll be able to handle it.
I have no use for Thibs' quotes on the matter. He clearly is as uncomfortable talking about injuries (Skiles was the same way) as he is about being subjective in allotting minutes to potentially-overworked players. He and Luol couldn't even get straight whether Luol recently dribbled a basketball or not. That's fine, it's not Thibs job to expand his duties beyond fantastic coach to also play doctor.
Doctors generally recommend surgery with such injuries, though doctors tend to recommend surgery, based on at least my own observation.
Deng was told he wouldn’t do any more damage without surgery, though he will have pain. He’ll receive regular treatment. This also is the kind of injury that if left untreated can heal. There are records of people having such an injury and not knowing exactly what it is and it eventually healing.
Still, it can be very painful and more so in a contact sport and the possibility of surgery remains open.
KC Johnson had more useful reporting in saying that Luol's "doctors suggested he have surgery to repair".
It was mentioned in both pieces Luol's injury history and the dovetailing narrative of him succumbing to them. To me they're entirely different matters. Yes, outside of last season, Luol's been injury prone. But any suggestion of a lack of toughness was never really justified, even when it was done through official Bulls communications (thanks Doug for the reminder). So I hope that Luol's can-do attitude, including him mentioning a possible return on Sunday in Miami, isn't some way to prove anything, least of all to the fans.
As to considering the surgery option, I'm not sure how to take Smith's report that Luol can't do any more damage to it playing NBA basketball. It seems unlikely to be true, and it doesn't rule out causing more pain which would necessitate the surgery eventually. The consensus return date from surgery seems to be 3-4 months, and figuring the time needed to fully work one's way back from that kind of procedure it's no guarantee that he'd be 100% for the playoffs even if the surgery was today. So maybe they figure why not just be less than 100% now, and Luol plays when he can, instead of enduring a guaranteed absence.
Kelly Dwyer tries to squint and see some kind of silver lining in Luol getting some rest from Thibodeau, but I'll believe that when I see it. And that's partially because of Deng himself, as he admitted today he knew his injury was serious at the time, but still told Thibodeau he could come back in to stop that dreaded Bobcats comeback on Saturday.
And short-term, it's not as awful as it would be for the not-insanely-deep teams, as Ronnie Brewer can do a respectable Deng impression (though he couldn't take Taj Gibson's minutes like Deng could...hurry back Taj and save us from Scal) But, big picture, things look quite dim, with a now likely best-case for the Bulls being that their two most important players will be less than optimal for the duration of this long season and postseason run. And if Deng's plan fails and a (then) season-ending surgery is required, it would effectively sink their shot at the Finals.