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Threats from Luol

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It looks like there is at least a chance that we'll know a whole lot more about the prospects for Luol Deng's future in Chicago in a week and a half.

As reported by Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski:

LAS VEGAS – Unless the Chicago Bulls can reach an agreement for a contract extension with restricted free agent Luol Deng before he departs to join the Great Britain national team in two weeks, he will end talks and tell management that he plans to leave the organization as a free agent next summer, a source close to Deng told Yahoo! Sports.

Deng is determined to come to terms on a long-term contract, but he has set an Aug. 4 deadline to reach an agreement. Once Deng, 23, leaves the country for the European Championship qualifying tournament, he will sign a one-year qualifying offer for $4.5 million and become an unrestricted free agent in 2009.

The message to the Bulls promises to be implicit: Unless the two sides come to terms soon, Deng will never again negotiate with them.

Talk has garnered a reputation for being cheap, and that's only more the case in NBA negotiation circles.  So there is no presumption here that this is set in stone.  But it is undoubtedly an aggressive step for the Deng camp.

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It is also a step that the Bulls would be best served to respond to in short order.

While Deng didn't quite meet some of the lofty expectations that came with his break-out performance in the 2007 playoffs, he was banged up this season and remains one of the game's most promising young players.  Unselfish player, solid and efficient scorer, good rebounder, defender at three positions, high character dude and only 23 years old.  Those sorts of players don't come along every day.

The Bulls would be fools to unwittingly burn bridges with Deng already.