French national team sends Joakim Noah home due to bad ankle

The news broke a couple of days ago that Joakim Noah was sent home from the national team due to an injury. My first thought was the thumb.

However, as K.C. Johnson reports, it's the ankle he sprained at the end of the season that's, apparently, still an issue.

Joakim Noah has returned to the United States after French basketball officials requested the Bulls' big man further rehabilitate the right ankle he sprained late in the season, sidelining him for three games.

Noah received this news as he underwent a routine medical exam last week in Paris while he prepared to join the French national team in training for the European championships. FIBA.com first reported the news, which the Tribune confirmed.

The French Basketball Federation released a statement saying, "In an act of transparency, the FFBB sent the medical reports to his club and his agent."

It's interesting that Joakim felt he was in good enough condition to play for the French National team, but he failed the physical. Typically, you'd think that an ankle injury severe enough to send you home from the national team would be a known entity going into the physical though Mickael Pietrus also failed his physical and opted to get surgery on his knee afterwards.

If this is related to an ankle injury he suffered in March, then it's clearly no typical ankle sprain. A high ankle sprain would account for such a long recovery time, but Noah would have to be tough as hell to have played through a high ankle sprain the way he did at the end of the season.

Whether it was a high ankle sprain or not, any injury that hasn't recovered after three and a half months [and a month and a half after the season ended] explains Noah's dip in performance at the end of the regular season and playoffs.

We kept hearing that Noah needed to get his wind back, but clearly he was actually playing hurt.

Where does this leave us with the Bulls medical staff? Did they not properly diagnose the injury or did they purposefully undersell how bad Noah was hurt?

Granted, Noah could have easily covered up symptoms so that he could continue playing. The Bulls weren't going to order x-rays and MRIs if Noah wasn't complaining while the French team might give him a more thorough examination before letting him play at all.

Given the type of competitor Noah is, it certainly wouldn't surprise me if he simply refused to let on about the severity of his injury in order to stay on the court. Particularly during the playoffs.

However, the fact that Noah still needs to undergo a rehab program for his ankle, apparently, wasn't on one before isn't particularly good news. Regardless of whether he undersold the injury or whether the Bulls medical staff failed to diagnose it, he clearly hasn't been under a proper rehab program for the injury.

Is this a big deal going forward? No. Not in a vacuum. However, it's not "nothing" either.

The fact that Noah is sitting here in mid July with a bad enough injury that he can't play for his national team and apparently wasn't on a rehab program before finding this out constitutes a failure with Joakim to execute a rehab program or the Bulls medical staff to give him one.

If Noah failed to execute a rehab program that's a pretty scary thought for Bulls fans and certainly doesn't say anything good about his work ethic going forward.

If the Bulls failed to give him one that's not much better. Remember this was the medical staff that found nothing wrong with Deng and basically made a press release just to call him a pussy and to tough it out only to act like that never happened a month later when an independent doctor found a stress fracture in his leg.

Either way, barring something absurdly wrong with his ankle, Noah will clearly be fine before the season starts, so there's likely no real impact on the next NBA season whenever that may be.

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  • 1. Noah is becoming a problem player. His constant injuries, his supposed tiredness of Thibs's practices, his lack of offense and consistency in play are all becoming a big issue for the Bulls when he is expected to be the 3rd/4th best player on a championship contending team.

    2. Are the Bulls doctors so bad? If that's the case GarPax better open their eyes and make changes. Or is this because of him doing something wrong after the season? Why wasn't this found at the end of the year physical if it was the high ankle sprain!

    3. If he is busy rehabbing his ankle...what happens to his offense?

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    Hard for me to see Noah as a problem player.

    The injuries are a concern, but injuries in big men are fairly common across the league, and it's something that you'll likely always have to deal with.

    I also don't see him as someone who has an issue with Thibodeau simply because he said Thibs runs them hard and it's tough. I think people have taken things he said honestly and then made more out of them then are there.

    Of course, I could be mistaken on the second point, maybe he really dislikes Thibs, but I don't think that's the case.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    The problem with Noah is is his limited offensive skills. And, if he keeps getting hurt with injuries, he cannot develop any moves or work on his offense during the summer. He doesn't have a natural ability for shooting/offense and he needs the summer time to work on his skill set. I hope this issue is something to do with insurance as some have mentioned.This lock-out should be a boon for Noah to work on his skills.

    And if you combine with his other issues(not a big deal), I am just questioning his importance to a championship contender. The Bulls have put a lot of faith in him and if he doesn't produce, the Bulls are a perennial "coming up short" team. IMO, Rose needs help and a decent SG(Jason Richardson type) will not just put this team over the top. He needs Noah and Boozer to raise their games.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I feel a lot better about Noah than Boozer in terms of "faith" we put into the guys.

    I agree there are issues with Noah, but I think the offensive ones are overstated. Most centers stink on offense, but Noah brings amazing pick and roll defense, and we'll need that badly against the Heat.

  • Couldn't it also be possible that the French doctors are exaggerating the severity of his injury so that they don't have to pay his insurance? Or that the injury is minor but has made the insurance costs higher than expected and so not worth paying?

  • In reply to Sid23:

    Possible they don't want to pay his insurance, but I really find it unlikely. I think it's far more prestigious for them to get an NBA player on their roster.

  • I think there is something to what Sid is saying. The insurance for something like that is probably pretty high for a guy with a $10 mil contract, and it's not like France is looking to fund a powerhouse. They'll be lucky to get into the medal rounds.

    There is also the chance that Noah was partying it up like it was 1999, and he needed a slap on the wrist and week of detoxing before he could properly and appropriately engage in practice.

  • True that.

    "The fact that Noah is sitting here in mid July with a bad enough injury that he can't play for his national team and apparently wasn't on a rehab program before finding this out constitutes a failure with Joakim to execute a rehab program or the Bulls medical staff to give him one."

    The off-season is a time to become healthy and build new skills. Apparently Noah is still injured and nothing was being done about that ankle injury.

    Also, with this injury, is Noah working on anything that resembles a shot from 10 feet out?

    Doug, I'd sure love to see a post that describes what our top players are doing to improve their skills during this NBA lockout.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    I'm not sure how much info I'll have on player off seasons this year due to the lockout. Some of my pipelines of information aren't allowed to speak to players.

  • The "good" news is that he has at least until January of next year to heal, if not September/October

  • I agree that Joakim with the myriad/career filled injuries and inconsistent performance/attitude concerns has become a huge question mark. But for my money you have to gamble that all-star emerging Noah and playoff beast Noah will return. I mean you passed on Melo. Now what will you realistically get back for Jo when his stock is down? And he has shown some blood and sweat of a champ in between his bumps in the road. Unless they can get a potential star player back or two very good players/shooters I say you have to take your chances, and stick with Noah.

  • Love Noah, he is my 2nd favorite Bull, but his focus is a problem. Where is his focus? What are his priorities. From my view it does not look like bringing Chicago a Championship is his #1 goal. He shouldn't have been playing with France anyways.

  • Unrelated topic here:

    Shaun Livingston is a guy I would like to get my hands on if/when we part ways with CJ Watson. I'd love to have the 6'7" PG backing up Rose, maybe backing up the 2 a little as well. Moving forward I'd like to add a young player similar to him as well. A long guard who can handle the ball would be a nice versitile way to fill out the rotation after we get a starting caliber 2.

  • Or it all could be as simple as Noah re-spraining the ankle. Bad ankle sprains cause you to lose proprioception in the joint and he might just have been unlucky injuring it outside of competition.

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