Rookie power forward Bobby Portis will be the biggest beneficiary of Joakim Noah‘s shoulder injury that will likely cost him the season, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg confirmed to the media, including Hoops Rumors. Noah will be sidelined up to six months after undergoing surgery for his dislocated left shoulder. Portis will become a rotation regular in his absence. Power forwards Cameron Bairstow and Cristiano Felicio will also receive more playing time. “It’s a great opportunity for some other guys,” Hoiberg said. “Bobby, his minutes were a little inconsistent after that stretch where he played when Jo was sitting out [with a previous shoulder sprain]. He knows now he’s going to play extended minutes pretty much every night. And other guys are going to have to step up. Cam and Cris are going to have to be ready to go out there and give us some minutes.” The Bulls are 9-2 in games Noah has missed but Hoiberg brushes aside that statistic. “I don’t think you’ll find one guy in that locker room that would say we’re a better team with Jo not in the lineup,” he said. “He does a lot of things that don’t show up in the box score. He’s a guy we’ll absolutely miss the rest of the season.”
In other news around the Central Division:
- Finding a way for power forward Kevin Love and point guard Kyrie Irving to coexist is paramount for the Cavs to have any hope of winning the NBA title this season, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com opines. Love’s stats have declined since Irving returned from the knee injury that kept him out until late last month. Love was averaging 17.6 points on 43% shooting without Irving this season, compared to 13.4 points on 37% shooting with Irving back in action. Cavs players reportedly wouldn’t mind a trade for Suns power forward Markieff Morris, though the front office doesn’t share their enthusiasm. The Cavs could try to go small more often with Love at center and deal Timofey Mozgov, who has seen his playing time decline dramatically, but making major roster moves could also backfire, Berger adds.
- Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson is frustrated by the team’s inability to put together a winning streak, as he told the media, including Hoops Rumors. Detroit handed the Warriors their fourth loss of the season on Saturday, then had a low-energy performance while losing to the Bulls Monday. “We’re a consistently inconsistent team,” Jackson said. “We’ve shown we play well at times. We play to the level of our opponent quite a bit. We’ve shown the world that we have flashes of being a good team and then we show flashes of being not so good.”
- Shooting guard Dionte Christmas, who spent training camp with the Cavs this fall, will have his contract with AEK Athens guaranteed for the season, international journalist David Pick tweets. Christmas previously signed a one-month deal with the Greek team, Pick adds. Christmas, who was waived after playing four preseason games with Cleveland, signed with Israel’s Hapoel Holon in December and then was released from that contract to play in Europe.