Joakim Noah said he’s been told he’ll miss the next two to four weeks because of a “slight tear” within his sprained left shoulder, an injury he suffered in Monday’s loss to the Nets, as Noah said to media today, including Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com and K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter links). The potentially month-long timeframe confirms Tuesday’s speculation from coach Fred Hoiberg after the team said Noah would be re-evaluated in two weeks.
The ailment is the latest frustration in a tough season for the 2016 free agent whom Hoiberg benched. He made his first start of the year in Saturday’s loss to the Knicks, recording a season-high 21 points to go with 10 rebounds, but he went back to a reserve role Monday before the injury. The ninth-year veteran is averaging a career-low 4.5 points per game, and his 22.3 minutes per contest are his fewest since his rookie season. Still, he’s been reluctant to criticize Hoiberg even as he’s shown signs of frustration with his reduced role.
Noah’s absence temporarily alleviates a frontcourt logjam for the Bulls, who’ve been trying to find time for promising rookie Bobby Portis while still keeping Noah, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic involved. Still, the injury surely does little for Noah’s trade value, which has appeared relatively soft. One Western Conference GM told Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that he thinks Noah is poised to leave Chicago in free agency this summer, though Gasol has said he’s “very likely” to opt out.
The Bulls are also dealing with a long-term injury to Mike Dunleavy, who still appears about a month or two away from game action. They nonetheless are without the volume of injuries necessary to trigger an extra roster spot via the hardship exception. They can’t get a disabled player exception unless one of their players is expected to miss the rest of the season, and while two players among the 15 on their roster are without fully guaranteed contracts, both are big men, another indication that Chicago is unlikely to make a roster move to compensate for the loss of Noah.
How do you see the rest of the season playing out for Noah? Do you think the Bulls will trade him? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.