Noah, a last-minute start for Bulls, scratched with knee trouble


Noah, a last-minute start for Bulls, scratched with knee trouble

PHILADELPHIA—First he wasn’t starting, then he still wasn't, then he was. And finally, Joakim Noah was out altogether, a late scratch for the Bulls after being slated as a surprise starter, yet another late wrinkle from Fred Hoiberg in this early season.

After Hoiberg repeated he wasn’t making lineup changes, the starting five released 15 minutes before gametime showed Noah in the pivot spot alongside Pau Gasol—until he began the game on the bench in full warmups.

Confused enough?

Well, Noah’s surgically repaired left knee began acting up right as the Bulls were going through their customary warm-ups, and Noah could no longer ignore the pain that had been bothering him all day.

Nikola Mirotic started in his place and scored 20 points and 10 rebounds, ending a mini-slump where he couldn’t hit much of anything for three games.

“Last minute. I was thinking about it,” Noah said. “It’s been bothering me since this morning, I don’t think it’s too serious. I think I made the right decision.”

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The knee is certainly enough to give observers pause, considering it’s the reason he went from top-four MVP vote getter in 2014 to the hobbling, painful-to-watch player who gamely went out there every night last season, but he said he doesn’t believe he’s in need of an MRI and he doesn’t believe it’ll be a long-term concern.

“I didn’t know. You don’t plan on these things,” Noah said. “I didn’t expect it. I’d been feeling great until this point. It just happened. I don’t think it’s too serious. I just have to be smart. I definitely wanted to play tonight.”

Playing it safe, eight games in against a team that was winless, the Bulls didn’t want to take the extra risk—especially with Noah’s recent history, as the knee was a point of consternation last season, the reason he was placed under a minute restriction that then-coach Tom Thibodeau bristled at.

“Just came back and decided it would be best,” Hoiberg said. “It wasn’t one particular move. Just soreness in his knee. Doesn’t sound like anything structurally wrong. Just a precautionary move.

“He went out and warmed up and felt a little soreness in his knee. So we were precautionary, decided it would be best to hold him out tonight. Hopefully he’ll be fine. We’ll re-evaluate him in the morning.

“Doesn’t sound like the staff is concerned about it. We’ll get back home and see tomorrow.”

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It surely made Hoiberg re-think things for a quick second, especially considering he’s so very coy about. His best offensive unit had been getting off to slow starts, and wanting to insert Noah back as a starter could’ve signed some kind of sea change with Hoiberg—if Noah was healthy.

Many certainly remember the miscommunication between Noah and Hoiberg as far as Hoiberg saying Noah volunteered going to the bench before the season began, a notion Noah openly denied.

But when Noah was asked if it was important to him to be back in the starting lineup, no matter if it was a one-night engagement or opportunity to re-assert himself back in a prominent position, he took the same team-first approach he’s been taking ever since the change was made.

“It’s really not about that right now,” Noah said. “I’m just trying to be healthy and help the team. It’s not what this team’s about.”

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr. grabbed some attention when he remarked that he was "perfect fit for today's NBA game" during an appearance on The Will Cain Show.

The interview went a long way towards showing off the uber-confident nature of Porter, who has consistently talked about being the best player in his class throughout the draft process. Porter also remarked that he was "an immediate impact guy," and that he "doesn't want it to take long to be one of the best players in the NBA."

His hubris has been intruiging considering the mystery surrounding the prospect.

During the interview Porter added that he would be open to doing more workouts for NBA front offices ahead of Thursday's NBA Draft. The only workout he has completed so far was his pro day workout in Chicago, and multiple reports have cited that Porter did look good shooting, though he was in an isolated setting with no defenders.

The one thing Porter has not done much throughout the process is talk about his weaknesses, which is somewhat concerning seeing as he has much to improve on. The general consensus is that a healthy Porter can get buckets at will. But if he can improve his ball-handling, rebounding and passing skills, he will be much more than a go-to scorer. Tightening his ball-handling skills is likely the key, as the ability to grab the rebound and push in transition would be a huge boon for Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg's offense.

The biggest question when it comes to Porter on the Bulls is can he fit with Lauri Markkanen? Despite receiving many favorable Kevin Durant and Paul George comparisons leading up to the draft, there is a rising sentiment that his best position in the NBA may be the power forward spot. It is not yet known if he has the foot speed to stay in front of quicker wings in today's NBA. But at six-feet-ten-inches, it is easy to imagine him having a huge advantage against slower power forwards rather than wings. While Markkanen is not currently built to be a full-time center, playing him at the five with Porter at the four would present Hoiberg with a potentially devastating closing lineup.

Versatility is the name of the game in today's league, and Michael Porter Jr. may be the key to unlocking the full potential of Hoiberg's pace-and-space attack. 

Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls


Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls

Just two years after being drafted in the second round, Paul Zipser told German media that he doesn’t see the Bulls wanting him next season.

The Bulls have until mid-July to pick up Zipser's option.

"I would not be surprised if they no longer want me.” Zipser said in German and translated via Google Translate

“Actually, I'm pretty sure I will not play in Chicago soon.”

Last month, Zipser had surgery on his fractured left foot, in his native country of Germany, which grew speculation the Bulls wouldn’t pick up his player option for next season. Zipser said the surgery "went perfectly."

Zipser showed some flashes of potential in his rookie season, averaging 5.5 per game and 2.8 rebounds in 44 games. But this past season, he played more games, but injuries derailed him from improving his overall production. He finished with four points and 2.4 rebounds in 54 games, including 12 starts.

Zipser explained that things changed from his first year to his second year.

“They were very varied," Zipser said. "The first year was just going very well. I fought my way into the team from the beginning and showed how I can help the team. The Bulls just needed someone like me. That's why it worked so well. We benefited from each other - that's why we were successful.”

“That was very different. It was not right from the beginning, and I was already struggling with my injury. It was not quite clear what it is. If you have pain in your foot, you automatically go down a bit with intensity. You just do not want to hurt yourself and be completely out. It was then difficult for me to keep my head in the sport - I did not manage that well. Nevertheless, the injury should not be an excuse.”

Nothing is official yet, but it sounds like Zipser might not dress up in a Bulls uniform next year.