The Bulls open their preseason schedule Saturday in Indiana against the Pacers, and all eyes will be on Derrick Rose as he returns to action for the fist time in almost 18 months.
Rose won’t be playing alongside his team’s full compliment of players, however, as Joakim Noah will be sidelined due to injury.
Coach Tom Thibodeau finally revealed Friday that Noah has missed the last three practices with a groin issue, but characterized it as a minor injury. Thibodeau said that Noah would miss Saturday’s game, but Noah revealed that his absence would be longer.
“We’re just trying to be smart and I probably won’t play for the first couple of preseason games,” Noah said. “It’s unfortunate. I want to be out there real bad but we’re going to be smart and I will be ready when it counts.”
Noah said he’d play through the issue if these were games that count, but at some point his durability is going to come into question if he keeps struggling with injury.
Noah has been limited by plantar fasciitis in recent seasons.
There’s no sense playing while injured at this early stage of the preseason, so the Bulls are doing the smart thing in holding Noah out. What will be even more important to his long-term health is a reduction of minutes during the regular season — something Thibodeau has promised to make a priority this year.