Joakim Noah: Time limit frustrating

CHICAGO — Joakim Noah remains on a limit of 32 minutes per game, but he hopes that the restriction imposed before the season by the Chicago Bulls’ front office will be lifted before the postseason.

The restriction, which has been in place all season, returned to the forefront after Sunday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder — a game in which Noah barely played down the stretch. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said he “ran out of minutes” for Noah.

“It’s frustrating,” Noah said, his first public comments since before Friday’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets. “But I think I’m not the only one who’s frustrated sometimes. I think it’s part of the grind. But I’m just trying to stay focused on what’s important: trying to win basketball games. I’m not trying to get caught up in any noise or anything like that. I don’t want to be a distraction. We’ll figure it out internally and do what’s best for the team.”

The edict to cut Noah’s minutes came from the Bulls’ front office over the summer. With the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year coming off left knee surgery after last season, general manager Gar Forman and executive vice president John Paxson wanted to make sure Noah was easing his way back into the season and building up for what the Bulls hoped would be a long playoff haul.

After struggling to find his rhythm over the first couple of months of the season, Noah seemed to be finding a groove over the past two. The emotional big man believes he is on the right track with the postseason about a month away.

“I think right now I’m feeling more and more healthy,” Noah said. “I’m feeling better and better on the court. I know I still have another gear I got to get to. But I think the reason for this minutes restriction is to try to protect me, too. It’s not to point any fingers or anything like that. We just got to do what’s best for me and for the team. I think we’re going to be just fine.”

Thibodeau said after Tuesday’s practice that he has been trying to leave open some minutes for Noah at the end of games, but sometimes it hasn’t worked out. Obviously, Noah would prefer playing in key moments down the stretch.

“It would be nice,” he said. “It would be nice.”

After Sunday’s loss, Thibodeau said he has received no indication from management that Noah’s minutes restriction would be lifted before the postseason. Noah is hopeful that when the postseason begins, he would be able to play more.

“I think as coaches, and as an organization, all together, I think we can talk and figure it out,” he said. “I think that’s fair.”

Noah’s comments appear to be the latest positive step for a Bulls team that has been ravaged by injuries over the past month. The good news for the Bulls is that Jimmy Butler (out since injuring his left elbow March 1) and Taj Gibson (out since injuring his ankle Feb. 27) are both participating in full-contact practices again and are hopeful they can return at some point this weekend. Derrick Rose, who had a meniscectomy Feb. 27, also appears to be on schedule to return before the regular season ends.

“We just got to keep building, keep fighting,” Noah said. “I think we have great talent on this team. And I think that we just got to get the highest seed possible because I think we’ll [still be]very tough to play in a seven-game series, and I’m really excited about that.”

Written by Nick Endress

Nick Endress

Nick the Quick Endress is an avid fan of basketball and hip hop, and a contributing writer with WJS since 2013. Nick has interviewed rappers, ballers, rapper ballers, and baller rappers on the site and continues to preach that the NBA should have a team in Europe. Maybe because Nick currently lives outside London where to them Football is actually played with your feet, can you believe this fatuousness?