Noah leaves team for treatment; anyone coming?


Feb 4

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Say it ain’t so, Jo.

Joakim Noah, arguably the Bulls most consistent player this season and the unofficial team spirit as the NBA’s No. 3 rebounder, was sent home Thursday from the Bulls road trip in Atlanta and will miss at least the next four games through the All Star break because of his plantar fasciitis.

“We’re shutting him down,” said Bulls general manager Gar Forman. “It’s the best course of action right now. He’s coming back to Chicago to get rest and treatment. We’ll reevaluate it after the All-Star break.”

The principal treatment for plantar fasciitis generally is rest, and the Bulls are hopeful getting almost two weeks’ rest now—the first game after the All-Star break is Feb. 16 at home—will help Noah’s foot feel well enough to return to his previous level of play.

Noah is averaging 11.2 points and 12 rebounds this season. But he failed to come close to a double/double in each of the last two games, both losses, and was noticeably slowed. Noah barely played in the fourth quarter and overtime in the loss to the 76ers Wednesday. He missed the Houston game on the Western Conference road trip because of the plantar fasciitis.

So what now?

Brad Miller, who has his own knee problems, is expected start, as he did for Noah in Houston when Miller had 25 points. Taj Gibson, who also is suffering from plantar fasciitis but will continue playing, probably will remain at power forward with Tyrus Thomas expected to get additional time.

The Bulls also figure to add a player on a 10-day contract.

The most likely is U. of Florida big man Chris Richard, who was with the Bulls in training camp and has been playing in the D-League with the Tulsa 66ers. The Bulls in these kinds of situations generally like to bring in players who are familiar with their play.

Richard is strong but undersized, about 6-8 and 255, an inside player with limited offensive game. He played off the bench with Noah at Florida and was a second round pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2007. He played in 52 games, even starting three, but mostly has been in the D-League since. Richard is averaging 10.1 points and 8.6 rebounds this season for Tulsa.

Here are some others the Bulls may also consider this season: Perhaps old friend Jared Reiner, playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the D-League. He is averaging 14.1 points and 9.5 rebounds. Reiner, from Iowa, signed with the Bulls in 2004-05 and started two games. He averaged 1.1 points and two rebounds. He writes an amusing blog and wrote of “being released on the tarmac” by the Clippers in camp. The 6-11 center also has been with the Suns, Supersonics, Spurs, Bucks and 76ers. He also played in Spain. The Bulls also could look at Rob Kurz of Notre Dame or St. Joe’s Dwyane Jones, a 6-11 center averaging 17.1 points and 15 rebounds, the biggest scorer of the bunch. The latter two also are in the D-League.

I would not expect the Bulls to make a trade to address Noah’s absence, especially because you do not replace what Noah has brought to the team. You try to survive his absence.

“It just wasn’t getting better and we wanted him to get rest and treatment,” said Forman. “Our medical staff thought that was the best course of action.”

Forman said Noah was told to follow this course of action.

“He’ll never sit himself down,” Forman said. “In talking to him, you could tell it wasn’t getting better. We need to shut him down for a little bit. For four games. At least.

“It’s going to have a big effect on us, obviously,” said Forman. “It will hurt us, but we’ll see what happens. It will be an opportunity for other guys to step up and we feel we have players who can do that.”

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