The Chicago Bulls are gradually going back to their old form as the runner-up team to LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. Amid the injuries that hit key players like Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah earlier this season, the Jimmy Butler squad is rising from the struggles. With their wins over dominant teams such as Kyle Lowry's Toronto Raptors and David Lee's Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls are slowly establishing themselves as potential top contenders in the division.
However, the Monday loss to John Wall's Washington Wizards has marred the excitement over the Chicago Bulls revival this NBA season. With Noah back in the game, it was expected that the Pau Gasol squad will perform better. Unlike the return of Rose in the roster, however, Noah's comeback proved to be disastrous for the team. Some sports analysts even believe that the Chicago Bulls might be better off without the center.
"If the Bulls' 8-2 record without Joakim Noah this season wasn't evidenced enough of why the organization deems him expendable via trade, Monday night's 114-100 embarrassing loss to Washington was a tiny reminder," observed Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. The sports analyst added, "Making his first appearance since he suffered a small tear in his left shoulder back on Dec. 21, Noah was not only dealing with rust, but also a diminishing role."
Before the game, Fred Hoiberg disclosed his plans of trying to ease Noah back in the rotation. While the Chicago Bulls head coach provided no official approximations for the minutes, he admitted that some players will be affected by Noah's return.
"We have talked, we've talked to our guys," said Hoiberg of the adjustments following Noah's return, according to ESPN. He added, "We've played nine the last few games. We'll probably get back to playing 10. But yeah, it's obviously going to cut into some players' minutes, and a lot of that will just be by feel and how the flow of the game is going."
With the performance of Noah in the Monday game, some sports analysts believe that it might be time for an NBA trade to be on the table. Earlier this season, Noah's starting role had been snatched away from him. This change relegated him to the bench during most games. However, it looks like Hoiberg remains optimistic about Noah's recovery and eventual contribution to the Chicago Bulls.
"Sure, when you miss nine games you're going to have a little rust," explained Hoiberg of Noah's performance. He went on to share, "Jo had some energy, he had nine rebounds, so it's out there. He got his feet wet. I give him a lot of credit for kind of getting that second unit turned around [this season]. Again, we talked about him developing chemistry with Doug [McDermott], Niko [Mirotic] was in that lineup for a stretch, and now that will be Bobby [Portis], but Jo really is the leader of that second group. I think he's taken pride in that role."