Bulls forward Luol Deng remains committed to playing for Great Britain in this summer's London Olympics, even though it would likely mean postponing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist.
Now comes a story from across the pond, where British basketball is looking forward to Deng’s participation, but dreading the cost of insurance.
“His wrist situation will make this exorbitant premium even more expensive and we will have to make sacrifices to all our other programs if we are to make this happen,” Chris Spice, Britain’s performance director, said in the Metro UK. “It is difficult, but there is only one Luol Deng and there is only one London 2012 Olympic Games.”
Spice suggested the first insurance quote was in the neighborhood of $470,000. Should Deng suffer a career-ending injury while playing for Britain, the country’s basketball organization could owe the Bulls more than $15 million.
“I am optimistic that we will find an affordable solution so that the best basketball player Great Britain has ever produced by some margin is able to take his rightful place alongside his teammates in the London 2012 Olympic basketball tournament,” Spice added.
If Deng waits until after the Olympics to have surgery on his left wrist, he could end up missing the first couple of months next season. That doesn’t bode well for the Bulls, since Derrick Rose will also be sidelined during that time by knee surgery.
There’s nothing the Bulls can do to prevent Deng from participating in the Olympics and it’s easy to see both sides of this dilemma. You could argue that the Bulls should be Deng’s top priority, since they’re paying him $27 million the next two seasons.
Deng could argue that he made a tremendous sacrifice by playing through the wrist injury, which occurred on Jan. 21, and he’s due some time off. Deng, who was born in Sudan, feels he owes some gratitude to England for granting his family asylum roughly 20 years ago.
Then again, a case could be made that Deng has already done plenty for British basketball. Great Britain probably wouldn’t have been granted an automatic bid as host nation –- its first Olympic basketball appearance -- if not for Deng making the team more competitive in qualifying tournaments the past several years.
Great Britain will open its training camp in Houston in late June. Among the players on the preliminary roster are former Bulls guard Ben Gordon, Charlotte Bobcats center Byron Mullens and former Illinois center Robert Archibald.
The British side also suggested that after several weeks of resting the wrist in May and June, Deng won’t need surgery at all.
“He's going to get several weeks of rest, and he didn't get much of that in the Bulls' season,” Spice said, according to BBC Sport.
“We'll do the right thing by him. He knows his body better than anyone else and he'll have our medical people working with him. He will be in Houston when we start and what he can do will depend on what the medical guys say.”