While at Monday's groundbreaking ceremony for the organization's new practice facility adjacent to the United Center, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman provided updates on the status of several of the team's players, last seen hobbled or out of action in the NBA playoffs.
Paxson discussed All-Star small forward Luol Deng, who had severe complications from a spinal-tap procedure in the first round of the postseason and was unable to return after being hospitalized multiple times and losing 15 pounds.
"I know Lu went over to London, so Gar and I met with [Deng's agent] Herb Rudoy and he's getting along well," he said. "The big thing for Lu this year, this summer now, is the fact that there isn't any basketball that he has to do. Last year, he had the Olympics in London and that was huge. He's doing better and it was awful what he went through. Nobody wants that to happen, but he'll regain his strength this summer. But I'm just glad that he doesn't have anything committed, basketball-wise."
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Thibodeau added: "He hasn't been back in a while. I know he's feeling a lot better. He'll be in the gym shortly."
The coach said that several other players have been showing up to work out at the Berto Center.
"Kirk [Hinrich has] been in, he's been moving well," he said. "Taj [Gibson] has been in. We've got quite a few guys. Malcolm [Thomas] and Marquis [Teague] have been in, Nazr [Mohammed, a free agent and Chicago native, has] been in every day."
Forman concurred that Hinrich's health is improving and was cautiously optimistic about All-Star center Joakim Noah's plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
"Kirk's already been in the building, training, so he's doing a lot better," he explained. "We'll continue to evaluate [Noah's foot], but the first thing he needed was rest, so that's what he's getting now and when he comes back, we'll take a look at where he's at."
As for former league MVP Derrick Rose, Thibodeau remains in constant contact with the superstar point guard.
"That never changes. I talk to him all the time," said the coach, who revealed that he took a week-long vacation to California. "He's doing very well. He's moving along and we're looking forward to next year."
Paxson said there would be a greater emphasis on health moving forward, as the Bulls have been plagued by injuries over the past few seasons.
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"After this year, which was a tough year--start off with Derrick's injury and then, all the other things that happened--we really need to focus on getting our guys right and healthy. You look at the teams that are still playing or played into the conference finals, they're pretty much healthy and we need to find a way to minimize the risk of injury and pay attention to that, so this summer will be good for our guys," he said.
"We need to be more detailed and in-depth with our guys. Our training staff's terrific and our medical people are outstanding. I do think the fact that a guy like Lu doesn't have any commitments this summer, Derrick's had the year to improve his body and will be working out all summer, our guys know how to work the right way, so we have to be confident that we're putting things in place where we'll be healthy next year.
"Right now, we need them to kind of decompress, which they've done for about a month, but the summer's about paying attention to your body and correcting any deficiencies. Let's face it: The NBA season's a long one and you're going to have injuries, nicked up, whatever and you've got to take the summer to get a little bit stronger and put yourself in a position where you minimize risk of injury, so we're proud of the fact that our guys play hard and compete and push through things, but you could always look at ways to do things better."