Noah 'most likely' out for Game 4; Thibodeau still confident

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Noah 'most likely' out for Game 4; Thibodeau still confident

PHILADELPHIAJoakim Noahs left-ankle injury isnt as bad as some feared initially there was speculation that the gruesome injury, suffered in the third quarter of Friday nights Game 3 loss to the 76ers, was a fracture, but postgame x-rays were negative but the Bulls center does have a sprain and is doubtful for Sundays Game 4 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Most likely, hell be out tomorrow, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said Saturday afternoon following a film session at the teams hotel. I havent gotten the grade yet, but its doubtful. Well see tomorrow, though.

Thibodeau, in his typical fashion, said Noahs status is day-to-day and whether backup center Omer Asik is a game-time decision, and although most observers are counting the Bulls, down 2-1 in the first-round series, out with superstar Derrick Rose was lost to a season-ending knee injury in Game 1 and now Noah who morosely hobbled through the hotel lobby on crutches and wearing a cast on his ankle unlikely to return, the coach is sticking to the mantras hes consistently preached all season.

Like Ive said all along, we feel we have more than enough. Next guy up. Got to get the job done, he said. Injuries are part of the game. We have more than enough to win with. Weve got good, quality depth. Were down 2-1 in the series. Weve got to find a way to win tomorrow.

It happens. You deal with injuries. Next guy has an opportunity to rise up and thats the way we have to look at it, and thats the challenge we all face right now. The game tomorrow, weve all got to get ready and we have an opportunity to rise, and thats what we have to do, continued the coach, who downplayed comparisons to the Knicks team he was an assistant for in 1999, the last lockout-shortened NBA campaign, during which New York advanced to the NBA Finals after star center Patrick Ewing was injured in the conference finals. Obviously I think theres always disappointment when you lose and I think thats a good thing. I think that tells you that you have the right players. I think the big thing is how we respond, to have the determination tomorrow to get the job done and I want us to have greater fight tomorrow.

Though Asik is quietly considered one of the upper-echelon defensive centers in the league, the second-year pro and native of Turkey is a light scorer, to say the least, and isnt used to playing heavy minutes. Fortunately, Philadelphia is a smaller team with only one post player possessing the size of a true center in perimeter-oriented Spencer Hawes, so the Bulls might be able to get away with playing power forwards Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer in the pivot to match up with either rookie Lavoy Allen, a natural power forward, or veteran Elton Brand when he slides over to center, as well as All-Star small forward Luol Deng at power forward when Sixers reserve Thaddeus Young is in the game.

Omer obviously can handle that position, but Taj has played both positions, so it gives you versatility there. So, we feel like well be OK, Thibodeau explained. We still have three bigs and we also have Scal, so we feel like we have more than enough.

Omer, hes better offensively than hes given credit for because of his rebounding, offensive rebounding, and his screening, and hes also a very underrated passer, he continued. Hes not accustomed to playing the starters minutes, so thatll be a little bit of an adjustment, but Taj has played a lot, Carlos, we can extend his minutes some and then we have the ability to put Luol at the four also.

Thibodeau also discussed the process that led to Noah returning to Fridays contest early in the fourth quarter after first being injured in the third period.

He thought he could go. Sometimes you can get through it. Obviously he was struggling, said Thibodeau, who noted that he wanted to his team to commit a foul to stop the clock and make a substitution as soon as he noticed how badly Noah was laboring. He just twisted his ankle and he has to be cleared by Bulls trainer Fred Tedeschi. Fred clears him and we give it a go. Of course, hes got to want to play. If he feels hes able to play, he shows Fred that he can play or thinks he can give it a shot, then you do so and then, if not, then you dont.

Im relying on Fred. The games going on and I ask him if he can go or not go, so thats usually how it works, he added. Most guys, you can tell whether they feel like they can go or not go, but you just rely on your medical staff for that stuff.

After surreal offseason, Ben Zobrist comes to Cubs camp in style as World Series MVP

After surreal offseason, Ben Zobrist comes to Cubs camp in style as World Series MVP

MESA, Ariz. – Ben Zobrist drove to work on Sunday morning in his World Series MVP car, a 50th anniversary edition gray convertible Camaro he parked in the players’ lot outside the Under Armour Performance Center. Even on a star-studded Cubs team that clearly enjoyed the spoils of winning, Zobrist popped out as someone who understood what this meant in Chicago and why these opportunities shouldn’t be taken for granted.

“The surreal moments,” Zobrist said, “were obviously being on ‘Jimmy Fallon’ and getting to do about three days worth of Disney World in about six hours – just by zooming around and going in back doors and such – to in December going to a Bulls game and the crowd basically erupting when they put the camera on me.

“Getting to go to the White House and meet President Obama and the first lady at the time. And then a few weeks after that, I got to go to the National Prayer Breakfast events and meet a whole bunch of congressmen and senators and then shake the hand of President Trump and Vice President Pence.

“Being put in arenas that you’re not used to being put in – just because you were able to do something as an athlete – is pretty special. It’s special to know that you were able to do something that made a lot of people happy.”

Not bad for a small-town kid from downstate Illinois who never got drafted out of high school and ranked 16th on Baseball America’s list of the Houston Astros’ top prospects after the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Zobrist then had to spend parts of three seasons at the Triple-A level before really establishing himself with Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays, waiting until his age-28 season to get more than 200 at-bats.

During the interview, Zobrist asked a group of reporters to move with him away from his locker, so that Albert Almora Jr. could have some space and not deal with the overflow crowd after an abbreviated workout limited by the rain in Mesa. Within the clubhouse, Zobrist is respected for his meticulous preparation, willingness to play all over the field and nerves of steel in the playoffs. That’s why the Cubs gave Zobrist a four-year, $56 million contract after watching him help the Kansas City Royals win the 2015 World Series.

“It doesn’t feel like a three-peat to me,” Zobrist said. “Every year is new. And you’ve got to kind of forget about last year, to a certain degree. I know what happened last year is pretty unforgettable. But at the same time, we’ve got to turn the page and try to do something even more special.

“Everybody was super-hungry to make it happen last year. We have to push each other to realize it’s going to be even harder this year. For us to be able to do something like repeating a championship in Chicago would be even greater than what we were able to do last year.”

Zobrist decided to live close to Wrigley Field to maximize time with his family during the season and experience the city. In another surreal, only-in-Chicago moment, fans swarmed his North Center home after the Cubs returned from Cleveland, lining up around the block to say thanks and get a moment with the World Series MVP.   

“My neighborhood was really respectful,” Zobrist said. “They were awesome all year, just kind of (recognizing) that’s our home (and) being neighbors. And then after we won – the day after we came home – I was playing outside with my kids and some of the neighborhood kids were like: ‘Oh, man, we watched you (on TV). Hey, would you sign something?’

“I’m like: ‘You know what, I didn’t do it all year, I’ll do it.’ So I started signing for a few of them. And the next thing I know, people from surrounding neighborhoods heard and started coming over.

“Just to go on the record: That’s not happening all year long this year.”

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

Wojnarowski: Bulls-Celtics Jimmy Butler trade talks 'will loom over the entire week'

Buckle up, Bulls fans. The trade deadline is four days away and the potential for a blockbuster trade involving the Bulls appears to be on the table.

That's according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, who said on his Woj Report on Saturday night that the league's biggest trade deadline story will be Butler, the Bulls and the Celtics.

"There's no question," he told The Vertical's Chris Mannix, "this trade deadline, the potential of a Boston-Chicago deal for Jimmy Butler, I think it will loom over the entire week.

"These teams have engaged on the potential of this trade. They have not gotten far down the road on it. There still needs to be some alignment within the Bulls organization - from ownership to managament - that they want to make a deicison to enter a full rebuild.

"But the potential of this deal really illustrates, certainly the State Farm Right Combo, because these are two teams who have exactly what the other wants."

The Bulls, of course, have arguably a top-10 player in the NBA and someone who could put the Celtics in position to dethrone LeBron James in the East; James' Heat and Cavaliers have won the East the last six seasons. Butler's having yet another career year, averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 36.6 minutes. Adding him to a backcourt with Isaiah Thomas would certainly shake up the Eastern Conference and make the Celtics a legitimate threat.

The Celtics "have been hoarding young assets" ever since they dealt Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets in 2013. Boston has the right to swap picks with the league-worst Nets in the 2017 draft, and they have Brooklyn's first-round pick outright in 2018.

They also have young talent in Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, and Jae Crowder, who all could be used in any combination as part of the deal.

But as Wojnarowski points out, that Nets pick is the key to the deal, especially in a 2017 class that touts a host of potential franchise point guards.

"I don't think Chicago could get both (2017 and 2018 draft picks), but that is the beginning point of a deal with the Bulls for Jimmy Butler because they can, in this superstar-laden 2017 Draft, potentially get a star point guard to replace Derrick Rose," he said. "And get other assets to start them down the road on a rebuild."