I don't think the Bulls should be able to penalize Deng - I think they should be able to block his participation completely. The Olympics are an overrated, glorified money making operation just like the NBA (only less successful and far more corrupt). The NBA, which pays Deng more money, and has more invested in him, should have the right to block his participation.
1. The Olympics are just as commercial as pro sports but far more corrupt. While some say that the NBA, FIFA, and other internationally known sporting leagues are corrupt, there's very little proof of this allegation. The Olympics, however, have a dark cloud of corruption hanging above. There are literally hundreds of stories of corrupt or (at best) incompetent judges, trading votes, giving the home country's athletes special favors, etc.
What's more, the Olympics have grown from an international gathering of amateur athletes to "must see TV." NBC paid $4+ billion for the TV rights through 2020 and most major Olympic teams have corporate sponsors as well ... according to this article, the USOC earned about $70 million per year from corporate sponsorships.
That's an awful lot of cash for a so-called amateur sporting event.
Put another way, the Olympics are just as much of a money-making operation as the NBA ... however, unlike the NBA, the Olympics don't take any long term risks with employee's health, because all their employees work for free.
2. Large, wealthy nations have tremendous advantages over everyone else, which undermines the integrity of the games. If you look at the modern history of the Olympics, most of the awards go to a small handful of nations - take the 2008 and 2004 Summer Olympics. The US, China, and Russia won about 30% and 28% of the total medals available, despite the fact that they are only 3 of the nearly 200 nations that participate.
The Winter Olympic Games are even worse - in 2010 and 2006, Canada, the US, and Germany won 36% and 31% of all medals available.
The US isn't the largest nation in the world and - if the Olympics were truly equal - the US should win about 5% of the medals, as the US contains about 5% of the world's population. Instead, the US regularly wins twice it's fair share. Russia's math is about the same.
China is famous for investing heavily in Olympic programs - far more than most participating nations could invest if they wanted to.
Any sporting contest that inherently favors the wealthy isn't fair. There's no "honor" or "glory" in the Olympics in my eyes.
To me, the fact is that because Deng's contract is fully guaranteed, the Bulls come first. If the Bulls were able to cut Deng freely - such as they would if Deng's career ended because of an injury sustained in the Olympics - than Deng should be free to do as he pleases.
However, the Bulls agreed to pay Deng no matter what happens. Deng's career could end while he is defending the "honor" of the UK, and Chicago would still have to pay Deng, still have to take the cap hit, etc.
There's no sense in preserving the Olympics when it's corrupt and equally commercial when compared to the NBA.
More questions on the Olympics:
- What is it like to be an Olympic athlete after winning (or not winning) the Olympics?
- What are the most iconic images from the Olympics over history?
- Why is it so hard for figure skaters to land their jumps?