Noah on injury: It's frustrating, but I'm hoping I'll be alright
BROOKLYN — All-Star center Joakim Noah missed the Bulls’ 93-89 road loss to the Nets due to plantar fasciitis Friday night and it’s uncertain when he’ll return to the lineup.
“My foot is swelling up, bothering me. My plantar fasciitis is kind of coming back,” he said. “It’s frustrating, but I’m hoping that with a little bit of rest, I’ll be all right.
“I’ve been playing through it,” Noah continued. “It started about 10 days and it’s just been getting worse and worse, and I just knew that I needed some rest and it’s frustrating because I wanted to be out there, but I wasn’t able to go today.
“I’m going to take it day by day and just keep working with the trainers, and I think the most important thing with the plantar is just getting a little bit of rest, staying off my feet. That’s the most important thing with the plantar, but unfortunately, we play basketball every day. I’m hoping to come back as soon as possible,” he went on to say. “I know it’s hard to come back from, but I’m on it a lot earlier than I was last time. I think the difference is last time I tried to keep fighting through it and keep fighting through it, and I’m just trying to be smart about it. I just know that if I would have kept playing, even just today, that I would have been out for a while. Just trying to be smart.”
Noah was plagued by the same ailment in his left foot back in the 2009-10 season, but this time it’s his right foot.
“Jo’s got to do whatever he can to be healthy. We’ve discussed this as a team, in terms of a lot of guys want to push themselves. I think we’re at a point now where we want to be as healthy as we can be,” Noah’s fellow All-Star, Luol Deng, said. “Especially the last few years, we’ve been able to get the record and guys playing through things, but now, with the experience we have and being able to go deep in the playoffs the year before [last], we know that if we’re healthy, we can play with anyone and that’s got to be the main thing.”
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau avoided going into specifics about Noah’s injury before the contest — he called it a “lower-body injury” initially, but when pressed, admitted it was Noah’s foot, saying the center was “nicked up” — but remained defiant about his team’s ability to persevere, regardless of being short-handed.
“We’ve been down this road before,” he said. “I think we have the right type of guys. This hasn’t been anything new. Happened three years ago, happened last year, happened this year.
“Injuries are part of it. Everyone in the league deals with injuries. We’re not the first team in the league to have injuries, so that’s why we’re carrying 14 guys. If you’re on an NBA roster, you can play, so we expect the next man up to step up and get the job done.”
Meanwhile, starting point guard Kirk Hinrich, who flew back to Chicago prior to the team’s morning shootaround Friday at the Barclays Center, will have his right elbow reexamined by team physician Dr. Brian Cole.
The organization released that information in a statement Friday afternoon and according to a source, it’s possible that Hinrich suffered an infection in his elbow, stemming from popping his bursa sac in a game last month.
“He had some discomfort last night, so we sent him back and have Dr. Cole take a look at him and just reexamine him,” Thibodeau said. “It’s sore and he was having pain, so he’s going to go in and take a look at it.”
Another starter, power forward Carlos Boozer, also missed Friday’s matchup, as he’s dealing with a right-hamstring injury.
“He’s got to be patient. It’s one of those things that the longer you take, it’s going to affect your rhythm on everything, but you’ve got to be smart and take your time. It’s one of those injuries that can be something that keeps occurring if you really don’t take care of it,” said Deng, who just returned to the lineup after missing five games with an identical injury. “I know he wants to come back and be out there, but at the same time, he’s got to be smart. We don’t want it to be something that keeps coming back.”
When asked if the Bulls would consider adding a player to help with their depth, Thibodeau went to his go-to phrase.
“We have more than enough. If we get down where we feel we have multiple players out, we’ll take a look at that, but I like the guys we have on our team. They all can play, so the challenge at the beginning was getting everybody to know and the challenge now is when you’re called upon, go out there and do your job,” he said. “Obviously with Derrick, it’s different. You’re not going to replace Derrick individually. You have to do that collectively. We knew that going into the season. The thing that made that different this year was we had the summer to prepare for it. “
One player the Bulls could utilize to help with their post depth while Noah and Boozer are out is seldom-used reserve Vladimir Radmanovic. Radmanovic was a game-time decision due to tightness in his back, but told CSNChicago.com before the contest that he was available, if necessary.
“I had a little back spasm this morning,” he said. “It loosened up, so I [could've given] it a shot.”
With Hinrich out for the time being, Thibodeau insisted that he wouldn’t hesitate to play rookie point guard Marquis Teague behind fill-in starter Nate Robinson. Teague played less than seven minutes Friday, as Thibodeau frequently utilized backup shooting guard Marco Belinelli as a primary ballhandler.
“He’s done a good job. Whenever he’s been called upon, he’s played well,” Thibodeau said. “He’s doing a good job. Coming in every day, gets there early, works hard. Young, still learning. We want him to concentrate on his improvement and when he’s called upon, get out there and do his job.”
Robinson chimed in: “I know ‘Rook’ [Teague] is going to be ready to have my back, just like I have Kirk’s back.”
Thibodeau, however, also praised Belinelli effusively.
“Marco was great,” he said. “Hhe was very good in the pick-and-roll, made a lot of good plays for us, hit a lot of big shots, made the right plays, the right reads. IHe played extremely well.”
But regardless of what rotation the coach decides on moving forward, one thing is for certain: Thibodeau will continue to coach his team the same way.
“We don’t want to change our approach at all,” he said. "We’re not looking at how long the road trip is or what happened in the past.”
That goes for an injury or two, or three.