Luol Deng Injury: Updates on Heat Star's Eye and Return

Scott PolacekFeatured Columnist

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 7:  Luol Deng #9 of the Miami Heat during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on April 7, 2015 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

Miami Heat forward Luol Deng suffered an eye injury Jan. 20 game against the Washington Wizards and hadn't played since. However, he is ready to return. 

Continue for updates.

Deng Active vs. Bulls

Monday, Jan. 25

Deng is in Monday's starting lineup against Chicago, per Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

Deng Comments on Playing Status

Friday, Jan. 22

"If I could move my eye, I would play," Deng said, per Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald. "But I can't look up or down."

Spoelstra Comments on Deng Injury

Wednesday, Jan. 20

"Luol got poked with a finger square in the eye," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said, per the team. "I didn't see bleeding but I don't know for sure."

Deng's Versatility Vital for Heat at Both Ends of Floor

Deng is not the player he was in his prime as a member of the Chicago Bulls, but this is still a difficult setback for the Heat if the former Duke Blue Devil is forced to miss significant time.

The 30-year-old's absence was certainly felt because of his variety of skills that allow him to hit from three-point range, battle for rebounds and play stellar defense. His versatility and ability to play either forward position also allow Miami to mix and match different lineup combinations depending on the opponent.

Deng is a two-time All-Star and was a second-team NBA All-Defensive performer in the 2011-12 season. He played 72 games for the Heat in 2014-15 and averaged 14 points and 5.2 rebounds per night as one of the few constants on a team that was devastated by injuries throughout the campaign.

Deng’s injury meant the Heat asked Justise Winslow to shoulder a larger role. The No. 10 overall pick in the 2015 draft boasts athleticism and versatility through the roof at 6’7” and can attack the basket with a quick first step and a powerful 225-pound frame. He was also a suffocating defender at Duke who guarded everyone from opposing point guards to power forwards.

Deng provides veteran leadership with extensive playoff experience, and the Heat need him on the floor for upcoming postseason battles.