Luol Deng has a torn ligament in his left wrist and although he will not undergo surgery, at least right away, the versatile forward will be out for an extended period and his absence could make it more difficult for the Bulls to realize their goal of winning an NBA Championship this season.
That said, the player coach Tom Thibodeau calls the "glue" that holds his team together wants everybody to know he and the Bulls will be OK.
"I know it's a bad injury and it sounds terrible but really I think it will be fine," Deng said after Tuesday's practice at the Berto Center. "We've got a good team, a lot of guys who can play, and I think I'll be fine. I know how it feels. Everybody will talk about it but it will be fine."
Deng suffered a similar injury to his right wrist during his rookie season in 2005 and missed the rest of the season and playoffs after undergoing surgery in March. After consulting with the doctor that treated him then, along with other medical professionals, he is hoping the new injury will heal on its own and he can return to the court sooner rather than later.
Coach Tom Thibodeau said Deng dribbled and shot using his left hand during Tuesday's practice.
"This time around I'm familiar with it," he said. "It's on my left which is not like having it on my right (or shooting hand). I know how it feels pain-wise and am just trying to get it down to a certain level where I can play again. I'm really confident in the fact that I'll be out there. Hopefully soon, but I'll be out there."
Thibodeau said the injury is week-to-week. Deng said the pain has lessened since he sustained it in the fourth quarter of Saturday night's win over the Bobcats. Although he's not sure exactly how he was injured, he said he knew right away it was serious. He left the game to get an x-ray and have the wrist taped only to return to the game.
He said x-rays were inconclusive but an MRI later uncovered the ligament tear.
"I really feel like we have a very good chance of doing something special and I feel like without the surgery I'll be fine," he said. "I know what I can do with it and what I can't do. I really think I'm going to be really effective out there. There will be days when it's sore. We'll try to control how sore it gets. Everybody's body responds differently to it. But I'm very confident I'll be able to handle it."
Several NBA players have played through similar injuries in recent years, most notably Lakers star Kobe bryant, who tore a ligament in his wrist prior to this season and currently leads the league in scoring with 30.5 points per game.
"I really don't know what Kobe's is," Deng said when asked if he was comforted by Bryant's success. "I'm sure it's different ligaments or whatever. Whatever treatment he is getting, Kobe is Kobe, maybe he handles pain better than I do. Everybody is different. I'm really going by how I feel about it and I really feel like it's going to be fine. I'm definitely going to miss a few games here. I don't know how many. I'm very confident the guys will be fine. As soon as I can be out there I'll be out there."