During a long sit-down last season after making a morning turn for a game he knew he would not play, Luol Deng emphasized how much he needed to contribute.
Now he will get this chance – with a familiar face.
Deng, who has reached his highest level with coach Tom Thibodeau as a two-time All-Star with the Bulls, has agreed to sign a one-year minimum contract with Thibodeau's Timberwolves. Deng recently completed a buyout from the Lakers, which put him on hold during a rebuild after signing him in 2016 for a $ 72 million four-year free-agent deal.
Deng averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in over nine seasons in the Bulls, but played only one game in the Lakers last season.
"That's not a question," Deng said without hesitation in the interview last season when he was asked if he could do anything more. "I'm not (outside) because I can not play … I know I can play."
In Denver, Minnesota will fight for back-up minutes behind Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins. Butler has repeatedly blamed Deng and ex-cop co-coach Adrian Griffin for the work ethic he needed to remain in the league in a difficult rookie season in which Butler did not play much.
Deng, who is also with Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, played in the last season's interview on the proximity of these teams.
"We are still very close," said Deng. "I'm talking to Jo (Noah), I'm talking to Derrick, all those guys in these teams are still part of those days."
Deng sacrificed $ 7.5 million of the $ 36 million he had left on his deal with the Lakers, who signed LeBron James this off-season. He did it because he thinks he can still play.
"I was really lucky for my career," Deng said. "I had a lot of ups and downs with Scott Skiles and I think back to what he really let me do (co-coach) Ron Adams, and there were games when Scott Skiles did not play me the entire second half and there were games in which he did not play a single game for me, and later, when I looked at these things, those were the things that kept me in the league, because he wanted me to play better defense Defense I later became known as a guy playing defense, so it depends on who you are coaching.
"For me, Thibs was finally the coach that had a system that I really wanted to play, where I could play almost the whole game and focus on my defense, and offensively I did what I could because I was on the floor That was the funniest part of my career because I played without pressure, I played hard and because of the minutes I've played, my numbers have spoken for themselves. "
Twitter @ kcjhoop
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