Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/24/13
At the start of training camp Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau pointed to Wednesday night. The Bulls’ late tipoff against the Western Conference powerhouse Thunder marked the next-to-last exhibition a game in which Thibodeau said that starters would play regular-season minutes and the rotation would take a more permanent shape. That’s tough to do when All-Star center Joakim Noah remains sidelined with a sore groin and prominent reserve Kirk Hinrich has yet to be cleared from a concussion. Thibodeau said Wednesday was Noah’s first day doing basketball drills. “It’s basically all straight-ahead stuff” he said. “He’s completely deconditioned so we’re very concerned about that.’’ Noah who has played less than 20 minutes this preseason tried to paint a more positive picture. He says he feels better but acknowledged missing the high-profile regular-season opener Tuesday in Miami is in play. “It’s possible” Noah said. “But I’m not there yet. In my mind I’m playing. I want to be out there as soon as I can. We’ll see when that is.” Hinrich too downplayed Thibodeau’s assessment of being “not very” close to returning and he began running sprints for the first time after the shootaround. Hinrich said the league-mandated tests he must pass before getting cleared from the concussion he suffered Saturday night call for increased physical activity. Hinrich who added he no longer is experiencing headaches was even more direct than Noah when assessing his chances to play against the Heat. “I feel better” Hinrich said. “I plan on being out there.” Jimmy Butler returned from his three-game absence with a bruised left knee that he suffered in Brazil. Butler started alongside Derrick Rose at shooting guard. “I feel good man” Butler said. “I feel like it was just a little rest and a lot of rehab. I’m feeling back to normal.”
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