The two sides had been speaking for months, inching closer to a deal when all of a sudden, talks broke off and Deng’s agent said the All-Star would test free agency.
It was quite the reversal from what many had expected and now Deng, who could very well be entering his final season with the Chicago Bulls, says he doesn’t want to talk about the contract.
Per the Chicago Tribune:
“I’ll try not to be rude, but honestly, I would rather not talk about it,” Deng said. “I would rather play.”
Deng’s six-year, $71 million deal expires after this season. Herb Rudoy, Deng’s agent, said recently that Deng would “definitely explore free agency” after general manager Gar Forman informed him no extension would occur this offseason.
Sources said cursory discussions produced such a gulf that counteroffers weren’t exchanged.
“We know our potential is great, so I just have to focus on us as a team and how good we can be,” Deng said. “I think everything will take care of itself. I know it’s going to come up here and there — there is always individual stuff — but honestly, I just want to put all my attention into the team.”
Of course, with a season’s worth of time still ahead of them, whatever bridges that were burned could potentially be repaired so it’s far from a certainty that Deng will hit free agency, despite his agent suggesting it would happen.
Either way, Deng understandably doesn’t want the focus of his season to be about money and a contract.