Yet another NBA All-Star is calling it a career.
After failing to latch on to another NBA team for the 2019-20 season, Luol Deng — a former two-time All-Star — is officially calling it quits after 15 seasons in the NBA. Deng signed a one-day contract with the Chicago Bulls — the team he spent 10 full years with — to retire as a member of the Bulls organization.
Executive President of Basketball Operations John Paxson spoke of the impact Deng made on the Bulls franchise, via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports.
“From the moment we made Luol Deng the seventh overall pick of the 2004 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls became a better team,” Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. “Luol carried himself with first-class professionalism and leadership, helping lead his Bulls team to eight playoff appearances during his time in Chicago. We’ll always remember his All-Star career and the fierce competitiveness he brought to both ends of the floor every night.”
Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf also echoed a similar sentiment regarding Deng’s impact.
“We’re very fortunate and humbled that Luol has chosen to retire as a Chicago Bull,” Bulls COO Michael Reinsdorf said. “He was a role model on and off the court during his nine-plus years in Chicago, and he gave everything he had to help us win. I want to thank Luol for not only what he accomplished on the court for the team, but also for the leadership he demonstrated through his philanthropic efforts.”
Luol Deng Helped Shape Bulls Into Playoff Contender
Although Deng spent 15 years of his career in the NBA, it was with the Bulls where he experienced his prime years. The former seventh overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft helped shape the Bulls into a perennial playoff contender, appearing in the playoffs in six different years with Chicago.
Upon being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the midst of the 2013-14 season, Deng had averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in 637 appearances and 591 starts during his Bulls career.
Deng Wasted a Full Season With the Lakers
While his years after his Bulls playing career wasn’t as kind to him — he did enjoy a nice two-season stint with the Miami Heat — Deng experienced one of the more puzzling tenures in NBA history during his short tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was with the Lakers that Deng signed a lucrative, four-year, $72 million deal as the Lakers “attempted” to become contenders with Deng and Timofey Mozgov as their two big free agent signings. However, it became quickly apparent that the Lakers were still one of the worst teams in the NBA and Deng was benched in favor of rookie Brandon Ingram as he sat out the remaining 22 games of the 2016-17 season.
However, it was during the 2017-18 season that Deng essentially wasted a full year of his career. The Lakers only played him during the season opener and proceeded to sit him for the remaining 81 games of the regular season.
Deng spent the 2018-19 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves — his final in the NBA — where he was reunited with former Bulls teammates Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler — temporarily. The move also reunited him with head coach Tom Thibodeau.
The 34-year-old Deng retires with career averages of 14.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in 902 appearances and 826 career starts. He also played in 62 games with 56 starts in the postseason.