Despite being mired in a season that has been derailed by injuries, the Chicago Bulls are determined not to trade impending free-agent forward Luol Deng, sources told ESPN.com.
Teams are inquiring about Deng's status with the Bulls, who continue to sink in the standings in the wake of the knee injury that wrecked another season for Derrick Rose.
Deng told the Chicago Sun-Times this week that he's been preparing for the possibility of being traded, but sources said that's not in the team's plans.
Despite failing to come to terms on a contract extension before the season, the Bulls remain optimistic they will re-sign Deng next summer.
Having spent his entire 10-year career with Chicago, Deng has consistently said he wants to stay with the Bulls, though the sides were far apart on contract talks before they were tabled.
Deng is in the final year of a contact that will pay him $14 million this season, and the Bulls are facing a luxury-tax bill that could exceed $13 million. Some league executives believe that the Bulls, who'd never incurred a luxury tax until last year, may have an interest in offloading payroll ahead of the trade deadline. For now, though, that will not include Deng.
The Bulls (9-16) lost their fourth consecutive game Thursday night and have dropped eight of their last 10 in falling to 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
Already without Rose, the team has shut down Deng until at least next week as he continues to battle a sore Achilles. Jimmy Butler, who recently returned from a toe injury, suffered an ankle injury Thursday night and may be out for some time. Joakim Noah, who missed games earlier with a groin injury, has been battling a knee issue.
Chicago has its own first-round draft selection next year and will also get the Charlotte Bobcats', should it fall outside the top 10. The Bobcats (12-14) are in sixth place in the East.