The Chicago Bulls have been plagued by injuries ever since the beginning of the NBA season. Derrick Rose needed to undergo a face surgery for his eye socket concern. His absence shifted the load to Jimmy Butler, who once again took the lead role to ensure the Chicago Bulls' victories. However, other players soon followed suit. This placed a heavy burden to an already struggling basketball squad and its new head coach.
The latest blow to the Chicago Bulls is the shoulder injury incurred by Joakim Noah. This will place the Frenchman in the sidelines for four to six months, effectively putting an end to his NBA season. While Noah had been assigned to the bench for quite some time now, the center's strong influence on the hardwood court is undeniable. His leadership and command pushed his teammates to perform better - even those assigned in the starting lineup.
"It's tough," said Fred Hoiberg, referring to Noah's injury, according to ESPN. The Chicago Bulls head coach added, "Jo, he's such a passionate kid. A big-time leader of this team. He has so much energy -- even when he wasn't playing, he was always keeping guys' spirits up being around here, and I know he'll continue to do that. But I really feel bad the fact that he's going to have to have a surgical procedure to fix this. But at the end of the day, I know Jo's going to be fine."
Even his fellow teammates feel the loss of the group after Noah's exit. Fellow veteran star Pau Gasol disclosed that he and the Frenchman have been communicating since the injury. Gasol said, "I'm sure he's still probably in a little bit of shock with everything that happened. I know the guys really tried to lift his spirits just seeing him go in at halftime [after the injury Friday], but it's tough on everybody right now."
He added, "It's a tough one to swallow. Jo brings a lot to our team, a lot of energy, great spirit, great competitiveness, intensity. It's hard to accept the news. But in sports, these things happen. It's unfortunate. It can happen to anyone. I'm sorry it happened to him."
This injury once again puts the trade rumors in the forefront. Before his fall, Noah has been widely reported to be part of pending trade talks in the NBA. Fans commented that his apparent unhappiness with his reduced role combined with Hoiberg's decision to decrease his minutes make a quick trade recipe.
"Noah's season is over, and so, too, might be his nine-year run in Chicago," noted Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report. He added, "He's set to hit free agency this summer, and given his unhappiness this season with his reduced role in head coach Fred Hoiberg's rotation, the writing has been on the wall for a while that a split is likely."
Meanwhile, the unexpected exit of Noah presents a problem in the alleged NBA trade talks involving Gasol. The Spanish star has also been the center of some trade speculations this season. The Taj Gibson squad had been reportedly quietly shopping Gasol - a move that may now come to a stop given the circumstances.
"The Bulls were also quietly checking into deals for Pau Gasol, who will opt out of the final year of his contract after this season," disclosed Jeff Zillgitt of the USA Today. He added, "But Gasol, who played in Friday's loss to the Mavericks, is also battling injuries (shoulder, Achilles) and has a short list of teams he will sign with, making it difficult to trade him for a valuable asset."