Deng confident wrist won't be an issue

The pain is gone -- for now at least -- from the left wrist of Luol Deng. Bradley Leeb/US Presswire

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng admits that he was planning on having surgery to fix the torn ligament in his left wrist last season, but after the rehab program he put himself through this summer he feels confident he can contribute at a high level.

"I had the injury before (in 2004), and for some reason, maybe because it was my first time and I first had it, it felt a lot worse than the second time," Deng said after Thursday's practice. "The second time that I had it (last season), I asked the doctors a lot of questions.

"I never really lost any range of motion or strength, I just had pain. But as the year went on, I had my mind set on getting the surgery. As the year went on it just felt a lot stronger. I stuck with my rehab, kept doing my rehab, and til now kept doing my rehab and staying on top of it. It's been good so far. I just got to continue with that and see how it goes."

Deng tore the ligament in his wrist during a game on Jan. 21 against the Charlotte Bobcats. He opted out of having surgery during and after the season so that he could focus on helping the Bulls and playing for Team Great Britain at the London Olympics. While some in the organization pushed him to have the surgery, Deng was steadfast in his decision and believes there's still a chance he could make it through the new season without having to have the surgery at all.

"I haven't had any pain on it so I haven't really gone back to the doctors or anything," he said. "They would ask me how it feels and I would let them know. But if I have anything where it's troubling me I'll go and get it (looked at) and get treatment on it."

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is comfortable with Deng's decision and is hopeful that the wrist problems are a thing of the past.

"He's a tough-minded guy," Thibodeau said. "That injury is more common in hockey. There are a lot of hockey players that have it that never get the surgery, so he felt confident. He did a lot of research on it and he felt comfortable with his decision. You see guys, tough-minded guys like Kobe Bryant, with similar type injuries, but Luol's as tough as they come."

For his part, Deng seems at ease with his decision and is confident he is ready to help the team in any way he can. He spent the summer traveling, before and after the Olympics, while staying in the type of condition which will allow him to play close to 40 minutes a night.

"If you look back at the Olympics, counting the friendly games and everything I might have played ten games," he said. "And if I wasn't playing in the Olympics I would be working out and playing pick-ups and maybe playing three, four ... I don't know how many games if you count them up.

"At the end of the day, if I wasn't playing in the Olympics, I would just be running just as hard. But I like doing that because not only am I working with coaches, working on my game, but also, I'm getting treatment, I'm around trainers all the time. Everything stays the same routine."

Deng is ready to do whatever Thibodeau asks of him and has gotten advice from former Bulls' greats Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc as to how to improve his game.

"I talk a lot more now with Scottie, the last four or five years," Deng said. "And he's helped me a lot. It started with talking to him about my 3-pointers, because Scottie didn't shoot many when he came in (to the league). It started with just finding spots where I could be consistent at, so I started with the corners. And as I got comfortable, it started expanding.

"Every now and then I have a question. I was actually talking to Kukoc today and I was just picking his brain what he did shooting-wise, routine wise. It's great to have those guys around. They've done it and they were the best at it so it's good to get info from them."