CHICAGO (AP) — Joakim Noah expects to make a full recovery from shoulder surgery. Beyond that, the Bulls’ veteran center is not sure what the future holds.
Noah attended practice Tuesday after returning to Chicago on Monday night following surgery in New York last week to repair a dislocated left shoulder.
He said doctors believe there is a “very good chance” he will make a full recovery. Whether he suits up again for the Bulls is another issue.
The 30-year-old Noah is in the final year of a five-year, $60 million contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Before the injury, there was talk the team would explore dealing the eight-year veteran before the trade deadline.
“I hope so,” Noah said when asked if his goal is to play for Chicago next season. “I’m not trying to focus on the future. I had season-ending surgery last week. But this is all I know. I’m looking forward to seeing what the guys are doing. Right now, it’s just all about taking a step back, just focusing on getting healthy.”
The 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Noah has been bothered by a variety of injuries in recent years that have affected his performance when he was able to suit up. He was moved to a reserve role by new coach Fred Hoiberg and didn’t exactly embrace the switch.
Noah is averaging a career-low 4.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 21.9 minutes. Unless he makes a quick recovery or the Bulls advance in the playoffs, his final appearance for Chicago might have been when he ran off the court after he got entangled with Dallas’ JaVale McGee on Jan. 15.
Noah was playing his fourth game back after initially injuring the shoulder Dec. 21 against Brooklyn. An MRI at the time revealed a small tear, and he sat out nine games.
“It’s not easy,” Noah said. “But I know there’s people out there who it’s a lot harder for, so I’m not complaining. These are my cards right now. It’s all about how you bounce back.”
The Bulls have fought through a variety of injuries in an up-and-down season. They’re fourth in the Eastern Conference at 25-19 and have dropped seven of 10 since a six-game win streak.
Their next seven games are on the road starting with Thursday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, and it’s not clear if Derrick Rose will be available for that one.
Hoiberg said the point guard was still sore after leaving Monday’s loss to Miami because of lower back spasms and right hamstring soreness. No MRI was scheduled for Rose, who did not take contact in practice. If he is not available, Aaron Brooks figures to carry the load at point guard.
Rose missed nearly the entire preseason because of an eye injury and has struggled to approach the form that made him one of the NBA’s most explosive players before a series of knee injuries.
The Bulls also have been without their best shooter and a major stabilizing force with Mike Dunleavy Jr. sidelined all season following back surgery. He went through a full practice on Tuesday.
The injuries, along with the adjustment from the defensive-minded Tom Thibodeau to the offense-oriented Hoiberg, have contributed to the sort of inconsistency that has allowed the Bulls to beat Cleveland on Saturday and lose to Miami two nights later.
“There’s times when we’re really good,” Hoiberg said. “We’re a really good basketball team when things are going well. It’s finding that consistency when we hit that rough patch.”