Joakim Noah tipped once, then twice before yelling out in joy as he converted on a Jimmy Butler miss in the third quarter of a rousing Bulls comeback in Philadelphia, as they recovered from being down 24 for a win.
The next night, he yelled out in agony as his left shoulder popped out again after being tangled with JaVale McGee in the second quarter, with expletives not far behind, running to the locker room.
Surgery isn’t far behind now, as Noah will undergo a procedure to repair the dislocated shoulder, ending his season and possibly career with the Bulls as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The official prognosis is 4-6 months, the same timeline for Kevin Love last spring and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist this season, which effectively ends Noah’s uneven, disappointing '15-16 year.
Noah had a few glimpses of being the impact player he’s been in years past, but with his role being diminished under Fred Hoiberg, he averaged a career-low in scoring with 4.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 22 games.
But his value always went beyond the numbers, as his intangibles had a tangible affect on his teammates for seasons on end.
[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]
“Seeing him on the table like that, kinda got flashback to when Derrick got hurt,” forward Taj Gibson said. “You don’t want to see your man go down like that. It is frustrating.”
Gibson was referring to Rose’s ACL tear in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs, the first serious injury that started Rose down this path and squandered what was then considered a strong chance at a title.
And in the years since, Noah’s body began breaking down, culminating in his big blow.
Now it leaves the Bulls franchise in a position where they possibly had one good big too many to needing every single one if they hope to make a decent run through the postseason.
They had been gauging interest around the league on Noah, Pau Gasol and Gibson, according to league sources. According to an executive for a Western Conference team, the Bulls had been most aggressive with Gibson, who’s settled in at power forward and has an affordable contract ($8.5 million this season, $8.95 million in 16-17).
They had been looking for a swingman but hadn’t received much traction, as trade activity league-wide has been down this season — as well as the lack of quality wings on the market as a whole.
Now, with Noah’s injury, only time will tell how the Bulls prioritize their personnel needs a month before the trade deadline.
But Noah’s priorities have to shift, for the first time in his career, from the Bulls’ needs to his own.