On Monday, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said forward Luol Deng was meeting with more doctors about a left wrist injury and the team did not reveal results of an MRI exam.
That was a strong sign of a serious injury and those suspicions were confirmed on Tuesday. Deng tore a ligament in his left wrist, but since it's his non-shooting hand, he will not have surgery.
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As soon as the pain subsides, he promised to be back in the lineup, though it's not clear when that might be.
"I know it's a bad injury and it sounds terrible, but I really think I'll be fine," Deng said at the Berto Center. "It could always be worse."
The injury happened in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game against Charlotte. He left the floor, had an X-ray taken, taped up the wrist, then went back in and finished the game.
In the locker room, he thought it happened while fighting for a rebound, but didn't think the injury would be a big deal. As it turns out, that was just wishful thinking.
"I knew it was something serious when it happened. I just didn't know to what extent," Deng said. "I'm definitely going to miss a few games here. I don't know how many."
Deng had the same injury to his right wrist during his rookie season of 2004-05. He had surgery and ended up missing the playoffs.
Because of that experience, he's confident surgery wasn't necessary this time and isn't planning on getting the wrist fixed after the season, either, although that could always change. Deng is planning on playing for the Great Britain Olympic team starting in early August.
"I'm just going to go day-by-day, see how it feels every day," he said. "I've just got to get the pain level down right now. It's going to be painful at times, but I'll have to deal with that.
"I really feel like we have a very good chance of doing something special and I feel like without the surgery, I'll be fine. I'm going to be very effective out there. There are going to be days where it's sore. We're going to try to control how sore it gets. I'm very confident I'll be able to handle it."
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant suffered a similar injury to his right wrist before the season began. He kept on playing and is currently averaging 30.5 points per game. If Bryant can do that with his shooting hand injured, Deng should be able to survive with a torn ligament in his off-hand, right?
"Kobe is Kobe. Maybe he handles pain better than I do," Deng said. "Everyone is different. I'm really going by how I feel about it and I feel it's going to be fine."
Deng is the latest in a string of injuries during this lockout-shortened season. Among the Bulls, Richard Hamilton (groin) missed 10 games, C.J. Watson (elbow) nine, Derrick Rose (toe) five, Taj Gibson (ankle sprain) two and counting, and Joakim Noah (sprained ankle) one.
The only Bulls to play in every game so far are Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Omer Asik. Brewer, who started in Hamilton's place, is now taking Deng's spot at small forward.
As always, coach Tom Thibodeau pointed to the team's deep bench. Despite the injuries, the Bulls still own the NBA's best record at 16-3 and are a perfect 8-0 at home. They beat New Jersey 110-95 on Monday without Deng or Gibson.
"We've got more than enough to win with," Thibodeau said, repeating a popular phrase of late. "I thought Ronnie was terrific, (Brian) Scalabrine was terrific. Kyle's played big minutes for us. Jimmy (Butler) can play. We have a roster full of guys who can play."