With all the injuries that had befallen the Bulls last season, what cost Luol Deng to miss the seven remaining postseason games went far beyond a contusion, sprain, break or tear.
Deng was given a spinal tap to rule out viral meningitis before Game 6 vs. the Brooklyn Nets. The procedure had a negative effect on the small forward and would render him unable to travel, spend time in and out of the ER, cause him to lose 15 pounds and be unable to do any basketball-related activity without getting dizzy and vomiting,.
Some questioned Deng’s willingness to play during the ordeal, which forced him to respond to the critics on his Twitter page during the series against the Nets. The criticism came after it was first reported that he only had the same flu/virus that had also hampered Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson.
In an interview with NBA Africa, the two-time All-Star spoke on just how serious his medical ordeal really was.
“The end of the season was disappointing. I worked hard all season, played in the All-Star, and wanted to take the team as far as possible in the playoffs. But then, when I got sick, I think that we could have handled the situation better,” Deng said. “Obviously there are some things that you can’t handle. You can’t really handle getting sick, being taken to the ER or going to the hospital. I got the spinal tap and that’s where it went all wrong. My body didn’t react well to the spinal tap, I had some serious side effects that not only didn’t allow me to play basketball, but really put my life in danger.
It’s something that I wouldn’t want anyone to go through, but when I went through it, I think that basketball became second – especially that because what I went through health-wise, my family was very worried. I never want to experience something like that again.”
Deng led the team in scoring last season with 16.5 points to go along with 6.5 rebounds in 75 games played.
He has spent most of his offseason as he usually does abroad. He is entering the final year of his current contract that will pay him just over 14.2 million. As Bulls general manager Gar Forman acknowledged to reporters in Las Vegas during Summer League play, the Bulls and Deng’s representation had begun dialogue on an extension
With Andre Iguodala signing a four-year $48 million deal with the Golden State Warriors and Josh Smith signing a four-year $54 million deal with Detroit this offseason, Deng’s market should be set right in the ballpark of the two swingmen.