17 December 2010
Joakim Noah will miss the next 6-8 weeks due to surgery on his right hand. The surgery will re-attach the tendon Noah tore around his thumb. Apparently, Noah was playing with the pain for the last month. This comes minutes after the Bulls won their seventh straight game.
Although it was an unfortunate time, it's certainly better than it happening in February or March. It was also a good move to have Noah repair it now, as they are wise to protect their 5/$60 center.
We already know the impact of Noah has on the court, as one of the best defensive players in the East. Others say the team will miss his emotional leadership, but I don't know how much that affects the players, especially since Joakim will probably travel to some games.
So the obvious question is, who will replace Noah?
I don't think you can replace him, but you can fill the void nicely. There's Taj Gibson, one of the NBA's top 6th man, who can defend and score like a starter, and will see starters minutes. There's Omer Asik, who started nicely, but seems to have problems when he has to defend without fouling. Kurt Thomas is still around, and he filled in admirably for Andrew Bogut last year for the Bucks as they made their playoff run. With those guys, I don't think you need to make a move right away, and it looks as if the Bulls will go with that to start.
But that doesn't mean it will stay that way. GM Gar Forman already told the media that he's explored options. Who would be available?
Nick Friedell has his ideas, and some are intriguing, especially Rasheed Wallace. He would probably come cheap, and is a low-risk move for the Bulls. I think he's better than Asik is right now, and can help stretch the floor. When Noah returns, he could still see 10 minutes a night, and more if the Bulls get into foul trouble. I don't know what kind of shape he's in, but if he can play, why not give it a shot? The fans will definitely mention Wallace's veteran leadership, and his knowledge of what it takes to be a champion.
As for Friedell's other ideas, Chris Richard was thrown out there. He's playing in China, and I don't know if Richard would jump in the middle of the season. I don't know what his contract situation is. In any case, he would probably be added just in case of foul trouble or additional injuries. Pass.
Joel Prysbilla is another intriguing name. He's strong defensively, but doesn't really provide much of anything on the other side of the ball. The Bulls would have trouble bringing in a $7.5 million salary, even though it expires at the end of the season. And Prysbilla isn't the best bet to stay healthy. I'd pass.
So, unless it's Wallace, I don't see a reason to go after a center...yet. If Asik proves to be horrible, yes, go get someone. Until then, see what you got.
Out of the next 34 games, the Bulls will play 26 games against teams with losing records. So Gar, I appreciate you working the phones to see what's available, but don't feel that a move is necessary.
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