A key part of the Bulls, Noah doesn't look to be playing at--or near--100 percent for the near future
The Chicago Bulls' injury troubles this season have been no secret, as the team's star point guard Derrick Rose hasn't played in a game yet, All-Stars Luol Deng and Joakim Noah have all missed their fair share of games, and even role players like Taj Gibson, Richard Hamilton, and Marco Belinelli have been out of the lineup for extended periods of time as well. However, in recent days and weeks, it appeared that Chicago's full roster--or close to it--would be able to play this upcoming postseason, especially with the progress Rose has seen with his shoulder injury.
That hope of a near-healthy Bulls team took a tough hit yesterday as coach Tom Thibodeau admitted that his big center suffered a bit of a setback after the team's loss on Sunday vs the Wizards. Noah, who played 22 minutes vs Washington, hadn't played in Chicago's previous eight games as he tried to return from a nagging plantar fasciitis problem with his right foot that has been bugging him for roughly two years. He went through the normal gauntlet of treatments--like the platelet-rich plasma therapy that Deron Williams underwent earlier this season--but hasn't been able to return to the Joakim Noah that was on the Eastern Conference All-Star team back in February.
From the Chicago Sun-Times' K.C. Johnson: "It's [Noah's injury] a tough one. You never really know with that type of injury," Thibodeau said.
"We don't want anyone to play who is injured. At this time of the year, there are a lot of guys who are hurting that will play. But if a guy is injured, we don't want him out there."
Very bad news for the Bulls as they are currently in 5th-place in the East, a very tenuous position with the Hawks right on their tail (figurative, of course). Any slippage in seeding could land them with the scorching Heat and Knicks as first-round matchups, which wouldn't be very desirable for an undermanned Chicago squad. For them to really have a legitimate shot at making noise in the playoffs, the Bulls need a healthy Noah back as soon as possible, not just a Noah at 60 percent. Letting his injury heal fully first is the smartest plan of action.