Chicago Sun-Times

Deng won't play for Great Britain this summer

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Luol Deng confirmed Monday what the Bulls brass had said: He won't play for Great Britain this summer. Deng, who was limited to 49 games last season due to a right shin stress fracture, told UK media in a conference call the injury was a concern.
``It's a very tough decision not being able to play but it was just a tough year last year with my injury,'' Deng said. ``I'm very committed to the program as everybody knows. The fracture of my leg was such a serious injury that I need all summer in order to go full speed and I'm not full speed yet, but I'm almost there. Right now it's the right decision, hopefully it will come out as a small sacrifice for my future with the Bulls and my future playing with GB.''
Deng is the leader of the Great Britain team and London is the host city for the 2012 Olympics.
Deng said he will be healthy and ready to go for the start of the Bulls season. Training camp begins in September and the Bulls will play a preseason game in London Oct. 6.
``With the pace I'm going right now I should be healthy enough to play in training camp and in the season,'' he said. ``I'm just not 100 percent right now, but I am able to put more pressure on my foot, which I wasn't during last season. I should be healthy for the NBA season, I'm terms of the future with GB, I am very committed to the future: I'm committed to the Bulls and I'm committed to GB but at this point it was the right decision to make because of this kind of injury, so hopefully in the future I'll be able to go back to do what I need to do.''
Deng said the Bulls didn't pressure him to bow out of international play this summer.
``The Bulls were very supportive, indeed they have been very supportive since day one in terms of playing with GB,'' he said. ``They never had any problems with it and every year that I played with GB I came back and I played for the Bulls, and I played well and I played well with GB. It is actually good for me to play in the summer as I am able to keep in shape. The decision was mine, I knew that if I am not 100% then playing for GB would not be a good idea because I would not be starting the season 100% either. If I was healthy I would definitely be playing and I'm sure the Bulls wouldn't mind it, but because of my injury, it changed a lot of things. Ultimately though, it was my decision to sit out this summer and get healthy and I know that Bulls are happy about that decision.''
Deng said the stress fracture will not slow him down next season.
``It is my first major injury, but I think you learn a lot,'' he said. ``You learn a lot about your body, you learn a lot about work ethic and how much you have to push yourself. You want to get healthy but you also want to prove to people that you can get back to the level you were at or even better so this injury drives me to become a better player and that's really what I want to get out of this injury.''
Deng is also hopeful Chicago will win its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympic games.
``I'm very excited about the Olympics and that Chicago might get a chance to host,'' he said. ``It would just be amazing, the fact that it's in London, and would then be in Chicago. I spoke to many people and I said I would love to help as much as I can because I know how much this city wants it to be here. I really believe that it would be a great place for it ''
Deng has tried to get former Bulls guard Ben Gordon, who was born in London, to play with GB. Gordon has yet to accept the invitation. Deng said the fact Gordon signed a free-agent contract with Detroit July 8 likely led to Gordon taking a pass this summer.
``Ben was very interested in playing,'' Deng said. ``I don't believe that his decision came from me not playing, I really believe that Ben thought he might be back here with the Bulls and I think it would have been an easier summer--coming back to play for the same team, the same place, the same house.
``Now I think that his summer and his plans have all changed. Now he signed with Detroit, he has to go back there and get a place and work out, he has to get adjusted to new guys so right now with the new team I think Ben is making the right decision by committing to Detroit. He just signed with them and they're looking for big things from him. That said, I am really looking forward to the future, as I am sure he will one day play for GB. Unfortunately he didn't come back to the Bulls, if he would have signed back with us not only would I be playing with him with GB but also back here, he was a great teammate.''
Deng said he hopes the GB team can contend for the World Championship in the summer of 2010.
``Growing up in England, all that stuff is something I really wanted; playing in the European Championships, the World Championships, the Olympics,'' Deng said. ``A lot of people didn't believe that GB had the talent or the pieces to participate in these tournaments one day. However, I really believe that there's so much talent within the GB team that we are capable of going to these tournaments and competing. That's why I'm really heartbroken that I'm not able to participate this summer but our team is going to get stronger every year, the guys are getting better and the commitment level is stronger.''

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HE WAS SMART TO TAKE THE CONTRACT FROM THE BULL, BECAUSE HE WILL NEVER RECEIVE THIS TYPE OF MONEY EVER AGAIN, HE IS INJURY-PRONED, AND HE CAN'T EVEN PLAY IN THE OFF-SEASON, SO THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL THAT HE WILL PROBABLY MISS A NUMBER OF GAMES WHEN THE SEASON BEGINS, HE IS DAMAGED GOODS, BUT HE IS EARNING A TON OF MONEY, FOR A PERSON THAT IS YOUNG, HE IS A GOOD CITIZEN BUT HE IS ALWAYS INJURED!

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