Tuesday, March 24, 2009

UK star Luol Deng to miss the remaining season?

Luol Deng has been struggling with a sore leg for a few weeks. Saturday night against Houston, the pain got worse. An x-ray showed a stress fracture in the tibia; Deng will have an MRI Monday and could be out for the season.

If Lu ends up missing the season's finish (as Chicago tries desperately to grab a playoff berth), the list of stars downed by February will have grown by one. Marc Stein of noted how many season-ending injuries happened in the month: Amar'e Stoudemire, Al Jefferson, Jameer Nelson, Tracy McGrady and Elton Brand, and also possibly Mike Dunleavy and Monta Ellis (both of whom went back on the shelf recently). Most of those players leave their teams in the lurch in terms of playoff contention.

Vinny Del Negro and Deng both seem pessimistic, and losing Lu would be a massive blow to the Bulls. After starting the season slow under V.D.N., Deng has really come around to be a leader for the young team. I assume John Salmons will slip into the small forward slot for Chicago, putting a big weight on the frontcourt to pick up the rebounding slack a Salmons-for-Deng swap creates.

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