If there ever was a time for Joakim Noah to go to the sidelines for an extended amount of time, doing so while the Bulls’ season is at its most critical juncture to date wouldn’t be it.
But injuries never occur on anyone’s timeline, as the slight tear in his left shoulder will leave him out for the next 2-4 weeks, he said after Wednesday’s practice. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said Noah would be re-evaluated after two weeks so there’s not much difference between what the two said.
Still, though, coming on the heels of a three-game losing streak and the mini-drama that came with it leaves Noah feeling pretty helpless.
“No question. We're going through a lot as a team,” he said. “Lost some games, we're all very disappointed. I just wish I could be out there with my teammates.”
Noah said the shoulder, which popped out when he reached in to defend Brooklyn Nets forward Andrea Bargnani, still feels “very raw” and that he’ll rehab it with ice treatments and electric stimulation.
“Just going with the flow, one day at a time,” he said. “So I feel better than I did yesterday which is a good sign. Just trying to get back out there as soon as I can.”
Hoiberg hasn’t indicated how he’ll shake up the rotation in Noah’s absence, although he said Bobby Portis will get more playing time. He could move Nikola Mirotic back to the bench as a reserve to give them more size and a decent defensive rebounder, one of Noah’s biggest strengths.
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Noah’s still in a lot of pain, so there’s no telling whether the 2-4 week prognosis is optimistic or pessimistic at this point.
“Well my shoulder pop out and I felt it pop right back in,” Noah said. “So I guess that's a good sign. But it's very painful. I didn't know what else to think to be honest with you. I was trying to figure out what was wrong. We got an X-ray right away, X-ray was negative, that was a good sign.”
What hasn’t been a good sign has been the Bulls’ play of late, highlighted by Jimmy Butler’s comments that said Hoiberg should coach the team harder and subsequent fallout.
Noah said the adversity will either “bring a team together or it won’t”, and after being asked if he had any issues with Butler’s public comments, seemed to echo Pau Gasol’s desire to keep it within the locker room.
“Issues? I just wish it would've been kept in-house, maybe. That probably would've been better,” Noah said. “Everybody, including myself, we talk about some of our issues. We all have issues, every family has issues. We're growing together through the good and the bad. Time will tell.”
But one wonders if these candid conversations have been had amongst the players before spilling out publicly. Noah, who made some strong comments of his own recently, didn’t deny there should be more communication with his teammates.
“I think guys should definitely talk amongst ourselves more, probably. Just so everybody's on the same page,” he said. “That's part of growing. There's been a lot of role changes around here. It's important to learn from each other, learn from our experiences. There's a lot of basketball left. We have the best job in the world, we play for the Chicago Bulls, play basketball for a living. Let's not forget that either. Just go out there and compete to the best of our ability and the rest take care of itself.”