Just like that, two restricted free agents who looked like they were on their ways out of their respective towns appear to be passing up changes of scenery.
Earlier this week, Emeka Okafor inked his $72 million deal for six more years in Charlotte after indicating that he was getting tired of dealing with Bobcats management.
This time around, it appears the Bulls have made ends meet just in time to meet Luol Deng's ultimatum.
As reported by ESPN's Marc Stein:
NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com that Deng and the Bulls, after more than a year of slow-moving negotiations, are suddenly on the verge of completing a new contract that will keep the restricted free agent in Chicago.
With Deng committed to leaving for England by week's end to join Great Britain's national team -- and insisting to the Bulls that he would not negotiate with them further without a deal by Friday -- sources said that the sides have verbally agreed on a new six-year pact worth a guaranteed $71 million.
That's a crucial move to cross off the Bulls' to-do list.
As was mentioned previously in this space, the Bulls simply could not afford the possibility of losing Deng for nothing a year from now. The guy is 23 years old, plays team basketball, scores, rebounds, moves the ball and defends three positions. While he didn't explode as some expected him to this season, it bears noting that a) he was banged up, b) again, he's 23, and c) players like Deng don't come around every day. He is going to be at least a solid NBA player for most of his career and has the chance to be a great one.
The Bulls needed to lock him up, and it looks like they have. Well done.