Don't rush Joakim Noah back because Taj Gibson resprained his MCL

Taj Gibson wouldn't draw any conclusions about his sprained MCL, but he confirmed it was the same injury he had before, it felt about as bad as it felt before, and they'd take a look today with an MRI to see what's going on.

The injury was a non contact injury where Taj simply tried to sidestep on defense and his knee just buckled on him.

He admitted to getting nicked up over the past couple games and was trying to play through it. The Bulls should use this as a cautionary tale for bringing back Joakim Noah too early. Noah had already mentioned he thought he might give it a go this Thursday. Hopefully Taj's injury doesn't affect his decision one way or the other.

If the Bulls have any hope of escaping the first round, they'll need at least one of Noah or Taj to be playing at full strength, and if they want that hope to be any greater than 'longshot' then they'll need them both. Simply put, going into the season, we knew big man depth would be a huge issue, and the team escaped without any serious problems for a long time.

However, with a full season of wear and tear on the frontcourt, the injuries are starting to mount. The same old concerns rear their ugly head: Tom Thibodeau playing too much for the regular season, minutes being allocated too highly, the training staff not properly protecting our players from injuries by letting them come back too early, etc...

Sometimes, it feels like a finger needs to be pointed, but the reality is the Bulls injury situation isn't so unique or unexpected. Gibson and Noah are both thin players going against much more physical opponents, and guys in that position tend to get hurt frequently. Hinrich and Hamilton have both had significant injuries the past several seasons, so no surprise there either.

In fact, I've stated in the off-season both of the past two years that the Bulls carry an incredible amount of injury risk on their roster based on the history of the players on it. I've been frustrated as much as the next guy with the injuries, but Chicago took on a roster filled with guys with long injury histories, so it should be no surprise that they're dealing with injuries now.

The rest of the games are meaningless

As long as Chicago can win maybe three of their remaining nine games they'll stay ahead of Milwaukee, and given we don't know whether the 6th or 7th seed is really going to be better anyway staying ahead of Boston is somewhat irrelevant [though I'd hazard a guess three wins keeps you ahead of Boston too].

The Bulls have plenty of games left against lesser teams to pad things out, and even their depleted roster should manage to get at least three wins. That being the case, Chicago has to focus on getting everyone as healthy as possible rather than trying to grind out wins.

Of course with Derrick Rose looking like he'll sit out the full season, the ultimate upside for the Bulls is likely a 1st or 2nd round exit either way. Particularly if the front court can't get healthy, and Taj Gibson may not have enough time to get healthy regardless. Still, if the Bulls want any hope of keeping their season and slim championship hopes (would require a Rose miracle along with plenty of other miracles) then they'll need to take the Doc Rivers strategy of maximizing health over wins the rest of the year.

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  • Thibs does a lot of things well but will he some weaknesses that need to be addressed. Will he ever learn to take his foot off the gas during the regular season? Could GarPax ever influence him to change his ways?

  • Whoever is in charge of 'clearing' guys to play, must lose their job.
    Injuries are part of the game, but in the last two years, we have had far too many recurring injuries, or injuries that were incurred because players came back too soon.

  • In reply to Swish14U:

    Reinsdorf directs the team to intentionally encourage injuries to keep down the values of his players.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Haha, nice conspiracy theory, but then he'd only do it in contract years.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    additionally, if that were true, we wouldn't constantly be overpaying everyone that we do sign, like we did with Taj this season, Deng a few years ago, and of course Bozo the Bamboozler.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Well, Noah already signed a pretty hefty contract, so the better value to the organization would be to optimize his playing ability at this point (More Wins = more home playoff games = greater $$$ in Jerry's pockets...more and better Noah plays, the more NOAH jerseys gets sold = more $$$ in Jerry's pocket).

    Same goes for Rose, Gibson and to a lesser extent, Hinrich.

    Additionally, the more they are injured, the less likely you'd be able to trade them for anything of value. Before his wrist injury and the extended spins on his odometer, you may have been able to package Deng with either Taj or Asik to bring in a legitimate #2 player. Now, I am not sure you're getting 6 dimes on the dollar if you were to package Deng with Gibson.

    While I am not sure Reinsdorf has much basketball acumen, I am sure that he realizes that injuries are a drain on his pocketbook long term, not an aid.

    That all said, I think the more likely (and by that, I'm meaning <1%) scenario is that he tells GarPax to launch Thibs due to his continued mishandling of the team's assets.

  • In reply to Salvamini:

    I'm really just kidding, though I don't blame you for taking me seriously because I've heard plenty of Reinsdorf conspiracy theories that are only slightly more believable.

  • In reply to Swish14U:

    Teams seem to typically always take the short view on these things.

  • we'll see if the stubborn thib plays malcolm thomas instead of playing deng more minutes at the pf position. with all this disaster, the bulls still look like they might be able to make it to 45 wins, the target i set for them, of course that was with rose coming back in early march so not so bad. This draft and offseason is CRUCIAL, the FO can't kirk hinrich this summer or they will set the bulls back several years. They need to get a ready to contribute backup center or shooting guard in the draft and they still have that trade exception from korver??? Get to work paxson or else get your personally signed yellow and purpose rose jersey as a parting gift.

  • I can't remember a season I've wanted to end so badly. The bulls are one and done No matter where they finish.. 5th-7th is a guaranteed loss. I don't care how much people say defense wins championships.. That's bull. If you can't score you're going to lose. Bulls can't score consistently and to be honest efficiently either. Please let this season end ASAP because its seriously draining watching this team. When you're in basketball hell like the bulls currently are, no win is a guarantee.. To my point the bulls lost to the Bobcats this year, and almost lost to the pistons the other day. They could very easily be 0-3 after that Miami game. I'm so tired of the Injuries and the losses and the Derrick rose updates and the Good Nate and bad Nate, and dequan Cook missing open threes and boozer being terrible on defense and this whole team. Dear Derrick rose god please make this team go away.

  • As I predicted, not resigning Asik is looking like a worse and worse decision everyday with each passing injury. As I said at the time, the Bulls became a small team the minute that they let him go, which is exacerbated by injuries that we knew were coming. Noah and Taj, at a minumum get some kind of minor injury every year, with Noah's ankle injury in the playoffs last spring more like a major injury as it lasted several months.

    For what it is worth Asik had something like 20 & 18 the other night in only 28 minutes on 11-13 from the field.

    Unless we sign a player in the James Harden category in the summer of 2014 letting Asik go will have proven to be a useless gamble. Of course, I was insane enough to suggest trying to use Asik to get Harden before last seasons trade deadline. By the time that this seasons playoffs end, OKC will wish that they had considered that trade.

    As for the rest of the season, I totally agree that we should focus on entering the playoffs with the best health possible, and not on winning an extra game or 2. Noah should sit until the 2-3 games of the season and then play just enough to get the rust off and get his wind back. It took Taj nearly a month to recover from his initial injury, it seems like a reinjury would take longer, meaning that he is in jeopardy for the playoffs, unless the Bulls make it to the second round.

    I am in the camp that Thibs grind it out and win at all costs does end up breaking down the Bulls players by the time that the playoffs come around, especially when you have a team comprised of guys who are fragile or have injury prone histories.
    Not sure that it will ever happen, but maybe with experience, Thibs will mature to a Popovich style of player management.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Given that they have no 7 footer on the roster and only 3 quality bigs all whom have history of injuries I would agree. Asik is looking good even averaging double doubles which a ton of bulls fans said he never could do. Hard to lose a young talented center for nothing especially when the contract was matchable. I mean if there ability to match was really low they should have traded him. But no the GarPax monster never seems to think ahead.

    All this because they jumped into a stupid contract to try and save face after getting played by the big three. I still have never heard an excuse for why they gave Boozer an extra year by agreeing to a sign and trade. I mean how stupid can you be there was no other competition at that point! No reason to max him out and definately not to give him a sixth year. But they got played just like they do by almost every agent. I mean outside of vet min guys they overpay for almost everyone. Noah is probably the only big money guy outside Rose with a decent contract.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Booz got 5 years $75 mil, he didn't get the max or a 6th year. However, I do agree that it was a bad signing given the market. We could have not won a championship without him. I hope the Bulls learned their lesson, no more 5 year deals. How much easier would it have been to move Booz if he didn't have that 5th year. We could have then retained Asik and kept Booz through his contract.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Oh wow, you predicted it! You're so smart!!! You should be a NBA GM or something!

  • In reply to Roman F:

    and you're so smart that you should be a snarky douche on an internet blog, who contributes nothing more than ad hominem attacks, oh, wait, that is what you are.

    Now, if you want to talk basketball, instead of bullshit.

    Just like I was a big supporter of Noah's in his rookie year, when most were hating on him, I was an early supporter of Asik, probably the strongest supporter of matching his contract and worrying about his 3rd year in his 3rd year, and that he was a double/double player as a starter. That he was the type of player who would be put Miami(before they won) or OKC over the top as champions.

    and yes, I could easily be an NBA GM, I've been right on my calls about Bulls players most of the time(going back for years before the internet existed) and way more often than many NBA GM's. The NBA is probably the easiest sport to be a good GM, which makes it all the more surprising how many bad ones there are.

    and yes, again I did say that the Bulls couldn't afford to give up on Asik because they had a small, injury prone front line, which has now come back to bite us in a BigWay. and that they would lose long term flexibility by letting him walk, which will be proved over the next few years.

    You don't build a size, defense and rebounding team, by letting your biggest and best defender and rebounder go for nothing.

  • Rose is on the see red, Bulls playoff poster. If he doesn't play in the playoffs, that seems a bit shady to me. I think they know he isn't coming back, but they are putting him on the playoff poster anyway? Man I hate Reinsdorf and Co.

  • Don't the Bulls cash in on a insurance policy if Rose sits out the entire season? I believe they do!

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    now i see, of course Rose won't play. And the reason he doesn't come out and say it is cause reinsdorf wants to cash in with overpriced playoff tickets, so they leave that possibility hanging... coming back in the middle of the playoffs?? come on, that's the biggest bullshit i've ever heard. What a sorry ass organization...

  • So even though the Bulls have sold out every single playoff game they've played, Rose or no Rose, they decided that this year they could only sell out if they dangled the possibility of a Rose return? Yeah ok whatever.

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