Deng, Bulls agree to new deal

CHICAGO – Restricted free agent forward Luol Deng and the Chicago Bulls have agreed to a six-year contract that could be worth as much as $80 million.

The Bulls e-mailed a press release Wednesday afternoon announcing a Thursday morning news availability for the “contract signing of Luol Deng.” No details on the deal were released.

General manager John Paxson did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press.

The value of the new deal was reported earlier by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and ESPN.com, which said the contract would include $71 million in guaranteed money.

Deng averaged 17 points and 6.3 rebounds last season, while shooting 47.9 percent. That marked a drop from 2006-07, when he scored 18 points a game with 7.1 rebounds, while making 51.7 percent of his shots. Deng had rejected a five-year contract extension last October that was worth $57.5 million.

A four-year pro out of Duke, the 6-foot-9 Deng has career averages of 15.6 points and 6.4 rebounds. He is fast in the open court, good at finishing drives to the basket and has developed a steady medium-range jumper off half-court sets or the fastbreak.

The Bulls are hoping Deng will be a big part of their future along with Derrick Rose, a guard out of Memphis selected by Chicago with the No. 1 pick in last month’s draft.

Guard Ben Gordon, who rejected a five-year, $50 million contract before last season, also is a restricted free agent.

After three straight playoff appearances and a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Bulls faltered in 2007-08, finishing 33-49 in a season that saw both head coach Scott Skiles and interim coach Jim Boylan lose their jobs.