The Chicago Bulls saw an important piece of their franchise leave when Luol Deng was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday in exchange for oft-injured center Andrew Bynum and future draft picks. Nonetheless, the team is ready to move forward without their two-time All-Star and it showed following a 92-87 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
Rookie forward Tony Snell received an uptick in playing time, finishing with 12 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes. Despite the win, the thought of Deng's departure lingered.
"It was pretty difficult," Snell told USA Today Sports. "Lu was like my big brother. It's a lot of mixed emotions for me, because I get more playing time. But he meant a lot to this organization."
The Bulls are already feeling the pangs of dealing with a short-handed roster, particularly with injuries to Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Carlos Boozer. The loss of Deng only exacerbates the situation, but Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau knows what the team needs to get through the rest of the season.
"We played a number of games without Luol, so I think we have a good understanding of what we'll need," said Coach Thibodeau. "We need everyone."
Everyone will also need to continue playing defense, especially now that one of their defensive leaders will be in a Cavaliers uniform. The Bulls are second in the league at limiting the opposing team’s offense with 92 points per game—more of that same ingredient can only help them on a going-forward basis.