Trading Luol Deng in the wake of Derrick Rose's injury was the right… (Scott Strazzante / Chicago…)
It was not supposed to be like this.
The Bulls fall from being arguably the most exciting team in Chicago to a team merely playing out the rest of the season because someone scheduled them 82 games. After the Derrick Rose re-injury, the Bulls have morphed into a movie montage of awful things happening in slow motion while everyone just sort of stands by and watches helplessly.
The Luol Deng trade had to happen. The amount of money the team saves, the amount of talent in the lottery this year—it just made too much sense for too many reasons. But it still hurts.
Deng was the perfect Chicago player, the athletic embodiment of the city. Chronically underappreciated, even after building himself into a consistent all-star and receiving praise from across the country, he was the Player of Broad Shoulders for the Bulls, the guy who played more minutes than anyone, playing hard on defense and offense while never doing things too flashy like a New York or L.A. And he did it better than nearly anyone else on the planet.
And yet, despite the 10 years Deng was with the Bulls, everything feels so incomplete, so empty. This team was built to be the defending champs, with Deng the glue holding the extreme talent of Rose, extreme emotion of Noah and extremely disgusting shooting form of Boozer together. He's the type of player who should have never left the city.
Sure, when your team's doctors nearly kill you, that's not a great bargaining chip. And it was time, given all the uncertainties going forward. But losing the biggest certainty on your team is never fun. Maybe Deng will move onto real stardom in Cleveland or wherever he ends up.
Not that Deng was ever about that. Somehow it seems fitting that he'll be remembered as a supporting character in the Derrick Rose Show, instead of what he really was: one of the best players in Bulls history.
Scott Bolohan is a RedEye special contributor.
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