Luol Deng will be an unrestricted free agent at year’s end, and given the emergence of Jimmy Butler and the fruitless extension talks between Deng and the Bulls this offseason, many observers believe this will be his last year in Chicago. However, Deng tells ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard that he certainly isn’t planning on bolting in free agency.
“I definitely want to stay here,” Deng said of Chicago. “I would love to play here my whole career.”
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported a month ago that Deng was more disappointed than he let on in the Bulls’ failure to engage in serious extension talks, and the 28-year-old acknowledged as much to Broussard. However, Deng hinted that the lack of extension doesn’t necessarily preclude a long-term future with the Bulls.
Still, if Deng is going to continue his career in Chicago, it looks like he’ll have to re-sign as a free agent rather than ink an in-season deal. While the Tom Thibodeau favorite remains extension-eligible until next July, agent Herb Rudoy suggested in September that his client would hit free agency, and sources tell Broussard that the Bulls forward is open to testing the market.
“I’ve seen players in the past who wanted to stay with their team and it didn’t work out,” Deng added. “At the end of the day, I can’t control that.”
With Deng’s $14MM+ salary set to come off the books in July, the Bulls will have the opportunity to clear a modest chunk of cap space if they let Deng walk and amnesty Carlos Boozer.