It’s not as bad as it could be, but the near future is still a bit uncertain for Joakim Noah, as he’ll be out for the next two weeks with a sprained shoulder after his MRI Tuesday morning.
Noah reached in to defend an Andrea Bargnani shot in the third quarter of Monday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets and the shoulder “popped out."
“It’s a sprained shoulder. He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He’s obviously very sore today. It popped out of joint for a brief second. He’ll be sore and stiff. So it’s rehabbing for a couple weeks then re-evaluating from there.”
Noah seemed to be in good spirits from afar, laughing and joking with teammates at the end of practice. But it’s certainly a blow of considerable proportions, to which Derrick Rose called the specter of losing Noah for a length of time “devastating.”
“It’s always huge when you lose a player like Jo, just the energy he brings,” Rose said after the game. “It’s devastating. Even though people talk about his (lack of) scoring, his presence on the floor means a lot to this team.”
The time frame could be wide-ranging, because the two-week period doesn’t guarantee Noah will be back around that time.
Noah is in the last year of his contract with the Bulls and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. He scored a season-high 21 in Saturday night’s loss to the Knicks and is averaging 4.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 22.3 minutes off the bench.
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“The initial diagnosis, the shoulder sprain and the initial recovery is two weeks or rehab, then he'll be reevaluated. That's what I've been told,” Hoiberg said. “Maybe two, maybe four. I just don't know yet.”
The Bulls will have to make more modifications to the rotation, even after inserting Nikola Mirotic as a starter in order to clear the deck for Bobby Portis to get some playing time.
Now without a backup center, Mirotic could wind up back on the bench for Tony Snell, who didn’t play at all Monday night.
“Sure, those are the decisions and those are the things we’ll talk about the next few days, and again, we’ll experiment with them some at practice, and then make that determination,” Hoiberg said.
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Noah, Rose and Pau Gasol declined to talk to media after Tuesday’s practice, as the storm clouds around the team continue to form.
“He’s an important player, brings a lot of energy to what we do,” said Gasol Monday night. “If he misses games it’ll be harder. When a guy goes down there’s an opportunity for another guy to step up and do what he can to help us win.”