Bulls: Joakim Noah 'feeling good,' could return Monday


Bulls: Joakim Noah 'feeling good,' could return Monday

Joakim Noah could make his return to the Bulls' rotation Monday night against the Washington Wizards.

The reserve forward, who has missed nine games with a sprained right shoulder, did some on-court work after the Bulls' film session Sunday afternoon at the Advocate Center. He'll go through his usual routine at Monday morning's shootaround before a determination is made, but both Noah and Fred Hoiberg felt confident in the 30-year-old's status.

"Feel good. I’m happy I got to practice a little bit today, play a little 1-on-1, and I’m excited to get back on the court," Noah said.

Noah suffered the injury Dec. 21 in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets, the Bulls' third straight defeat and sixth in their last 10 games at the time. Since then the Bulls have won seven of nine and vaulted to second place in the East; that stretch included a six-game win streak, snapped Saturday in a 120-105 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Though no stranger to injuries - he missed 15 games last season - being sidelined the last three weeks took a mental toll on Noah that has him anxious to get back on the floor. Speaking with media briefly Sunday at the Advocate Center, Noah used the word "excited" four times.

"Just being on the bike, (the) side of practice for a couple weeks, it’s as humbling as it gets for a player to be injured," he said. "I think we’ve been playing really good basketball and I want to be able to help our team.

"I’m confident in my shoulder being all right and I’m excited to get back on the court."

[MORE: Bulls 'humbled' by loss to Hawks on the road]

How he'll fit into a rotation playing its best basketball of the season is another question. Rookie Bobby Portis saw an uptick in minutes following Noah's injury and played well, averaging 7.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game. With Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic already entrenched in their roles, Hoiberg will need to divvy up minutes without upsetting the chemistry of a team playing its best basketball.

But Noah's pending return also comes at a good time, as the Bulls will begin a four-game-in-five-nights stretch Monday night.

"It’s a grind. We’ll find a way to get through it. You got to give your guys rest when you can," Hoiberg said. "Couple guys may enter the rotation and hopefully getting Jo back will help with that. It’s hard but you’ve got to manage those minutes as best you can and just take it one day at a time."

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

Bulls sign local product Tyler Ulis to two-way deal

The NBA preseason has finished and teams are finalizing their rosters before the beginning of the regular season.

For the Bulls, that meant claiming Tyler Ulis off waivers and signing him to a two-way contract.

The Athletic's Shams Charania first reported the move.

Ulis, a product of Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, was waived by the Warriors on Friday. He spent two years at Kentucky before getting drafted in the second round by the Phoenix Suns in 2016.

In two years with the Suns, Ulis made 58 starts and played in 132 games. He averaged just over 7 points per game in both seasons. Last season, Ulis also averaged 4.4 assists per game against 1.8 turnovers in 23.4 minutes per game.

The Suns waived Ulis after the season and the Warriors signed him for the preseason. He averaged 3 points and 1.5 assists per game in four preseason games with the Warriors.

The two-way contract means Ulis could be spending more time with the Windy City Bulls than at the United Center on game days, but backup point guard is a question mark for the Bulls. Cam Payne looks like he will get first crack at the role behind Kris Dunn with Denzel Valentine injured. Ryan Arcidiacono just made the team and could also figure into point guard minutes.

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Ryan Arcidiacono's persistence pays off with roster spot inclusion

Cuts during the NBA preseason aren’t exactly as gut-wrenching and tension-filled as they are in the NFL. NBA teams cut from somewhere in the late teens down to 15, and the potential for two-way contracts exist for those players who don’t make the roster. But for Ryan Arcidiacono, Saturday was filled with angst as he waited for a call. It never came.

“I was thinking about it. It’s like Hard Knocks when you’re watching. You don’t want to get that phone call,” Arcidiacono said Sunday before practice. “I was just thinking to myself after the game (Friday), nobody said anything to me. I was talking to (assistant) Pete (Myers) and he said, ‘Just get outta here, man. I’ll see you at practice on Sunday.’ I was still a little nervous on Friday night. Saturday morning I felt better after I talked to my agent and everything became more official.”

It’s quite the journey for Arcidiacono, who spent time both with the Bulls and their G-League affiliate in Hoffman Estates last season. In 37 starts with the Windy City Bulls, Arcidiacono averaged 13.9 points and 8.5 assists in 39.6 minutes. His two longest stints in Chicago came in late January and at the end of the year, and that 24-game audition was enough for the Bulls to re-sign him in July.

Arcidiacono found more comfort this summer in Year 2 with the Bulls. Though his playing time in the preseason was limited he showed enough in camp to warrant a spot on the roster. It also helped that the Bulls find themselves thin at the point guard position behind Kris Dunn, with Cameron Payne struggling and Denzel Valentine on the mend with an ankle injury.

“I think last year really helped me with the two-way, getting acclimated with what Fred wants to do,” he said. “I think getting up and down with the G League. (Head coach) Charlie (Henry) really helped me a lot. Knowing our point guard situation, I just tried to be the hardest playing guy on the floor anytime I step on and the rest will take care of itself.”

It’s unknown whether Arcidiacono’s stint in Chicago will last. His contract will be guaranteed on January 10. He’s an important body for now with Lauri Markkanen out for the foreseeable future and Valentine still recovering from his own injury. But he’ll also have the opportunity to push Payne for that back-up role. Payne struggled much of the preseason, averaging 4.2 points and 3.2 assists on just 25 percent shooting.

“Arci has done a lot of really good things,” Hoiberg said. “I liked the way he looked in the game the other night off the ball. Defensively, made some really good solid plays and again, when there’s an open man on the court Arci’s gonna find him.”

He won’t move the needle on the Bulls’ season, and his minutes will likely be minimal once the season begins. But for now it’s a great story of persistence that gives the Bulls another hard-working body in practice.”

“Whatever our team needs, that’s what they’ll get from me,” he said. “Whether that’s being a backup or the third point guard spot, I’m just here to compete and make our team better and hopefully get us some victories.”