Joakim Noah insisted that he'd be back in the Bulls' lineup in time for the team's Oct. 29 regular-season opener in Miami, but if that indeed ends up being the case, he'll be pushing it.
The All-Star center will be "shut down" for approximately a week, as he attempts to recover from the lingering soreness of a strained-groin injury suffered during a practice in the Bulls' first week of training camp at the Berto Center. Noah played in the Bulls' exhibition home-opening win Wednesday night at the United Center, logging 19 minutes of action, but was held out of Friday's morning shootaround at the arena.
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"Yeah, it flared up on me. I just needed a little bit more time. I want to be out there looking good. I've got to be healthy. It sucks, especially this early in the season, but it is what it is. I've just got to get back as soon as I can," he said before Friday night's home game against Indiana. "It's part of the process.
"We've got a great opportunity in front of us, but it's part of the game. Of course I would rather be playing right now, but I've got to do the right thing and this is the right thing to do," he added. "I just have to let it heal."
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who announced the status Friday morning, elaborated about the situation prior to the Pacers game.
"He still has a little bit of soreness, so we want to make sure he's completely healed before we move forward. So the next week, just lock into the rehab part of it. Get completely healthy," the coach explained. "It's always a concern whenever somebody misses [time], but it's part of the game, so you have to deal with it and he's got to work extremely hard on his conditioning. He's just got to be careful. We don't want him to re-injure it. We want him to take care of it, focus in on the rehab, lock into that. I think it's important to practice and be part of the team. But he can't practice if he's not healthy."
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Thibodeau wouldn't commit to saying whether Noah would be available for the regular-season opener against the Heat.
"We're going to make sure he's healthy. We'll cross that bridge when we get there," he said. "The focus right now is to concentrate on the rehab. We want him to be completely healed."