Luol Deng is ''getting closer and closer'' and could play tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks, coach Tom Thibodeau said Saturday.
Deng has missed the past seven games after suffering a torn ligament in his left wrist in a victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Jan. 21. The Bulls are 4-3 without Deng. They are 15-3 with him. Deng is averaging 15.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game this season and is the team's top defensive forward.
''There's a possibility [Deng will play vs. the Bucks],'' Thibodeau said before the Bulls' shootaround at the Al McGuire Center on the campus of Marquette University. ''He's very close right now.''
Deng was hopeful but not overly optimistic. The pain in his wrist is not as severe as it was when he suffered the injury, but it's still there.
He did not rule out possibility of surgery if his wrist does not respond well whenever he returns to the court.
''If that's the case, that's the case,'' Deng said. ''Until I get on the floor and I know how it feels if I can do it or not, then I'll make that decision.''
Thibodeau said guard Richard Hamilton, still recovering from a groin and thigh injuries, is ''unlikely'' to play against the Bucks. Hamilton has missed the past three games, four of the last five and has played in 11 of the Bulls' 25 games this season.