Nikola Mirotic, who suffered a concussion Wednesday, is still going through the league's protocol and his status is unclear for tonight's game against the Hornets.
Fred Hoiberg said Saturday morning at the team's shootaround that Mirotic, who missed practice Friday but was seen shooting jumpers during the portion of the shootaround open to media, will undergo more tests tonight at the United Center to determine whether he can suit up.
"This is the first concussion that we’ve dealt with and obviously he’s got to go through the protocol and we’ll see how he progresses," Hoiberg said. "But he feels good."
If Mirotic is unable to go, Joakim Noah would be the likely replacement in the starting lineup. After Mirotic was knocked out of Wednesday's game by an inadvertent elbow from Emmanuel Mudiay in the first quarter, Noah played a season-high 34 minutes, finishing with nine points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Saturday would be his first start of the year and would come at a time in which he's playing his best basketball. After a turbulent start Noah has averaged 11 rebounds and two blocks in his last two games, and he handed out a season-high seven assists in Monday's win over the Spurs.
"I think it’s been a little bit up and down but I’m still trying to figure it out," Noah said of his play. "Just stay positive and just keep my focus on what I can control and overall I think I’m in a good place and I’ve got to keep building.
"I feel really good. Actually I feel better than in training camp. I feel like my body usually takes 10-15 games to get my body right, get used to the pounding, but I feel pretty good."
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Point guard Kirk Hinrich is on track to play Saturday after missing the last two games with a hip injury.
If Mirotic is unable to play it'd be a brief setback for a Bulls team still searching for consistency. Though they lead the Eastern Conference by percentage points over Cleveland, Hoiberg and the Bulls know there's plenty of work to be done. They still rank among the worst in the league in offensive efficiency, Derrick Rose has yet to really get going and they now face a Charlotte team that handed the Bulls their worst loss of the season last month.
And while Hoiberg's up-tempo philosophies and schemes are still relatively new, veteran leadership has made that transition an easier one and led to victories, even when the Bulls aren't playing their best basketball.
"It’s been a really good group of guys to be around. I lean on those guys a lot. I talk to him during the games," Hoiberg said. "'What are you seeing out there?' I know the guys on the floor, sometimes they’ll see something and we’ll go out and run it.
"And when you have a good group and veteran guys that are bought in it makes your job pretty easy. So I’ve been really happy with how these guys have responded, how they’ve gone out and worked and how they’ve gotten better. Hopefully we’ll continue on that trend."