Noah’s health key to stretch run

Noah on foot: It hasn't gotten any worse

Noah’s health key to stretch run
February 10, 2013, 7:15 pm
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Bulls fans are counting the days until Derrick Rose gets back on the floor, but the front office has to be concerned about Joakim Noah’s current battle with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

After losing Omer Asik to Houston in free agency, the Bulls frontcourt depth just isn’t what it used to be. The coaching staff has been reluctant to use 14 year veteran Nazr Mohammed, which means back-up center minutes are going to Taj Gibson. If Noah can’t play his normal minutes, all of a sudden the workload on Gibson and Carlos Boozer becomes even greater.

The reality is there aren’t any quality big men available to come in and help. Several teams have talked with former No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden, but he doesn’t want to try a comeback until next season as he continues to rehab from recurring knee problems. Miami recently took a flyer on “Birdman” Anderson, who’s had a string of off the court issues. If that’s the best guy available right now, the Bulls aren’t likely to find any veteran who can come in and provide decent minutes off the bench.

It’s a similar story with the Developmental League. Plenty of big bodies on those rosters, but none of them ready to contribute to a contending team. So, the challenge for Tom Thibodeau is obvious. Try to nurse Noah through the next few weeks on a reduced minutes load, and hope the plantar fasciitis won’t be an issue come playoff time.  Gibson has already shown he can do the job at the center position, and the increased minutes will probably be a boost to his on-and-off offensive game this season.

With the East wide open behind Miami, the Bulls will get a major boost from the return of DRose, and they have the talent to battle the Pacers and Knicks for the No. 2 playoff seed. But all of that could unravel if the Bulls lose their All-Star Center. Keeping Noah healthy and productive is the key to making a late-season run.

The Bulls are finally back home Monday night to host the San Antonio Spurs. 

Kendall Gill will join me on the United Center concourse for Bulls PreGame Live at 6:30, then Neil Funk and Stacey King have the play by play call at 7 on Comcast SportsNet.