WICHITA, Kan.—Despite the impending return of starting shooting guard Jimmy Butler to the lineup, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was more pessimistic than usual after Wednesday morning’s shootaround at the Intrust Bank Arena.
Thibodeau, offering up mostly clipped responses, didn’t seem very pleased about the progress of sidelined veteran guard Kirk Hinrich, who is still recovering from a concussion suffered in last Friday’s home win over the Pacers, and All-Star center Joakim Noah, who is nursing a strained-groin injury incurred during the first week of Bulls’ training camp.
“Not very,” Thibodeau replied, when asked how close the pair are to returning to the court, adding, “We’ll see,” to a follow-up question about his best guess about their status for the Bulls’ Oct. 29 regular-season opener in Miami, which is less than a week away.
Of course, when queried about whether he was concerned about the injuries, Thibodeau’s old stand-by, “We’ve got enough,” made its 2013-14 season debut.
“He can run a little bit. That’s about it. The headaches are gone,” the coach said of Hinrich, who sprinted on the sidelines at the end of practice. “Today is the first day that he can run.”
He was even less enthused about Noah, saying only, “Nothing,” when asked what the center—who has only played 19 minutes in the preseason, Thibodeau reminded the media—was able to do.
“It’s all treatment, “ he went on to say about Noah, who shot jumpers at the end of the walk-through session.
Thibodeau did give his opinion of Noah’s current conditioning, stating, “Yeah, it’s not very good.”
Noah’s own opinion differed from his coach’s.
“I feel better. I’m just working. In my work, I feel a lot better. I’m going to keep going until I feel comfortable being out there,” he said. “We evaluate every day. I want to be out there as soon as I can. I just don’t want it to linger. I have to be smart. It sucks. There’s nothing more that I want than to be out there on the court. It’s part of the process. A little groin injury, I have to be smart. I want to be out there as soon as possible to help the team.”
Noah did admit that there’s a chance he could be shelved for the Heat game next week, but is striving for that not to be the case.
“It’s possible. But I’m not there yet. In my mind, I’m playing,” Noah said. “I want to be out there as soon as I can. We’ll see when that is.”
As for Butler, the third-year swingman said he feels recovered from the left-knee bruise, suffered in the Bulls’ win over Washington in Brazil, that has caused him to miss the team’s last three exhibition contests.
“Yeah, I'll probably play. I feel good, man. I feel like it was just a little rest and a lot of rehab, and I'm feeling back to normal. Let's see how I move and jump off of it,” said Butler, who noted that any lingering soreness has gone away. “I was still doing a little bit of conditioning, just a little different, not so much running. But I feel like I can still get my wind up there.”
At least there’s one positive to the NBA’s most troubled—yet still undefeated in the preseason—team, if one were to gauge their status from the mood of their coach.