Declining to address future Joakim Noah declares he will 'bounce back'


Declining to address future Joakim Noah declares he will 'bounce back'

Fresh off season-ending shoulder surgery, Joakim Noah left the door open to a return to the Bulls in free agency but seemed resigned to the diagnosis of the procedure ending his 2015-16 season.

“It’s not easy, you know? It’s very humbling to go through injuries as an athlete,” said Noah in his return to the Advocate Center for Bulls practice Tuesday. “You prepare yourself for a long season and then you get hurt. It’s part of it. It’s tough but I’ll bounce back.”

Noah won’t accompany the team on the seven-game road trip that’ll take the Bulls one game away from the All-Star break, but he plans to be visible with his teammates through his rehab. Noah underwent surgery to repair his dislocated left shoulder and the outlook calls for a 4-6 month process, essentially ending the season.

“I’m not thinking about the future at all,” Noah said. “Just trying to focus on getting my shoulder right. I’m a week removed, it’s tough, I wanna be out there, I wanna compete. But it’s not my reality.”

[MORE BULLS: Tom Thibodeau on Bulls without Joakim Noah - 'They can get this done']

Doctors said there’s a good chance Noah has a full recovery and his arm was in a sling after going through some rehab exercises with the training staff.

Repeatedly saying “I just had surgery a week ago” whenever queries came up about trying to come back or anything revolving around free agency, Noah still feels very connected to his teammates and offered his observations on the team’s struggles before going out west.

The Bulls lost their fourth straight home game to the Miami Heat Monday, a rarity in the Noah era.

“I think the mindset is good. Just gotta keep building, still gotta figure things out, with rotations, guys in and out of lineups,” Noah said. “But overall it’s a healthy group. It’s exciting. We’ve lost games we should’ve won. Won a lot of big games this year. So even though it’s up and down there’s still a lot of hope and we’re still trying to figure it out. It’s a long process.”

Noah strained the shoulder right before Christmas, missed nine games and four games into his return, the shoulder popped out while being tangled up with Dallas’ JaVale McGee. Almost everyone who heard Noah yell out in pain immediately knew his season was done.

[MORE BULLS: What's next for Joakim Noah, Bulls after season-ending shoulder surgery]

Embracing the reality hasn’t been an easy one, and the season to date before the injury was arguably the toughest of his career.

“This is all I know,” Noah said. “I’ve been here nine years, I’ve been injured before. Maybe not this situation but yeah, I’m looking forward to being around the guys.”

Being relegated to a bench role dulled his affect, all the while facing the prospect of free agency in the off-season made for a delicate situation for both Noah and coach Fred Hoiberg.

When asked if he would consider a return to the Bulls, Noah diplomatically left the door open but no one knows how either side feels about the other in regards to the future—and Noah added he can’t think too much about that right now, anyways.

“I hope so. Right now I’m not trying to focus on the future,” Noah said. “I just had season-ending surgery last week. But this is all I know. Looking forward to seeing what guys are doing. It’s all about taking a step back, focus on getting healthy and going from there.”

[SHOP: Buy a Joakim Noah jersey]

Certainly in a melancholy mood, his spirits opened up when talking about the Bulls’ rousing win in Cleveland over the weekend. After all, Noah has taken shots at Cleveland through the years and couldn’t resist getting one more jab in.

“I liked the win in Cleveland. Liked it a lot. Liked that one a lot,” Noah said.

When asked what he liked about it specifically, he finally let loose.

“I thought we executed well, just good to see that crowd be (so) upset,” Noah said. “They never thought we would win. Everyone’s (bleeped) off that night. Helped me sleep better.”

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.”