Joakim Noah set to have thumb surgery

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According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Bulls center Joakim Noah will undergo thumb surgery and could be out of the lineup for as many as 10 weeks. From Johnson’s report:

Noah played with the injury Wednesday night against the Raptors after team physicians determined he could do no further damage to the injury. Noah first got whacked on the thumb in late November and then aggravated the injury in early December. He has been playing with his hand taped at times. The Tribune first reported the severity of Noah’s injury late Tuesday. The determination for surgery was made Wednesday.

Tough break for Chicago, especially considering the limited amount of time that Noah, Derrick Rose, and Carlos Boozer have had to play together this season. That impressive core could take the Bulls a long way this season (which is to say nothing of Chicago’s versatile supporting cast), but Rose and Boozer will be without their big man complement for a spell.

In the meantime, the Bulls shot defense and offensive rebounding — two Chicago strengths and not coincidentally, two of Noah’s strengths — will regress toward the league average, a down note for a team that has played some pretty solid ball this season. The Bulls are currently tied for third in the Eastern Conference with the Magic and Knicks, with the Hawks just a single game back. Throw in a Bucks team that’s starting to figure a few things out, and the Bulls seem likely to stumble a bit in the standings. Noah’s eventual return should still give Chicago plenty of time to rebound, provided there aren’t any complications with his procedure or recovery.