Not only will there be no contract extension for Bulls forward Luol Deng this season, there apparently will be no talk about the lack thereof.
"I'll try not to be rude, but honestly, I would rather not talk about it," Deng said. "I would rather play."
Deng's six-year, $71 million deal expires after this season. Herb Rudoy, Deng's agent, said recently that Deng would "definitely explore free agency" after general manager Gar Forman informed him no extension would occur this offseason.
Sources said cursory discussions produced such a gulf that counteroffers weren't exchanged.
"We know our potential is great, so I just have to focus on us as a team and how good we can be," Deng said. "I think everything will take care of itself. I know it's going to come up here and there -- there is always individual stuff -- but honestly, I just want to put all my attention into the team."
Entering his 10th season, Deng is a two-time All-Star and the most experienced Bull. In previous instances where he has been doubted -- the stress fracture in his right tibia that ended his 2008-09 season comes to mind -- he has responded with high-level play.
"Luol will focus on playing," said coach Tom Thibodeau, one of Deng's biggest backers. "I know from my end, I look at Luol and I see a special player. I don't think you can win a championship without a player like Luol. He does so many things for our team that go unrecognized by most except his teammates and coaches. He's a complete player."
Deng's 2012-13 season also ended in turbulent fashion, with serious complications from a spinal tap administered to test for viral meningitis. Deng said it took him "a little while" after the season ended to be cleared for running.
But Forman envisions no issues with Deng pouting over that situation nor the lack of an extension.
"I don't anticipate that," Forman said. "Luol and I talked (Thursday). I think he's in a great place both physically and mentally. I think he's ready to help lead this team."
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