Have the Bulls undergone a culture shift in regards to health?

After the Bulls off day on Tuesday, Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich both missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday. So to sum things up, they practiced a total of three sessions and then spent three days off.

Tom Thibodeau was reportedly unconcerned about the health of either player and said the Bulls were just being cautious, but is the fact that the Bulls need to be cautious after just three practices a concern in and of itself?

Thibodeau claimed the players were feeling much better Thursday, but he held them out because the floor was real slippery. Practice was shut down a half hour early due to the slippery floor so it wasn't just empty talk.

He also wouldn't commit to either player playing in the first preseason game this Saturday, but given that it's only the first preseason game, it doesn't really matter much one way or the other.

The thing that's a little concerning is that with another team or set of players, it's easy to think they're just taking preseason off. A lot of star players are famous for it. One bright spot is the early off day now doesn't seem likely about Derrick Rose and looks more likely to be about the whole team.

However, there's an even bigger silver lining in this situation.

This might just represent a shift in the organizational thinking surrounding player health. In an effort to keep everyone healthier for the regular season, maybe the Bulls are simply going to coast in preseason and use it as a time to slowly bring up their conditioning.

Already gone were grueling two-a-day practices, replaced by a workout and a video session. There was an early rest day, and a couple guys took an extra two days as a precaution.

A huge factor in how far any team will go in the post-season is based on how healthy they are when they get there. The Bulls may simply be allowing the team to get their conditioning back slowly and ease into the season. That decision may keep them fresher for the year even if it costs them a game early on.

Maybe Noah and Hinrich are already showing signs of being simply too brittle, or maybe the Bulls are showing signs of putting health first for a team that desperately needs to do so.

Only time will tell.

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  • It could also be that there is a real competition for the last few roster spots. Since Noah and Hinrich probably know the offensive and defensive schemes better than anybody else on the team, and are probably the most likely to get injured based on past history, it makes sense to sit them and see who else can step up.

  • unfortunately both are nicked up and injury prone. You can't blame it on the coach this time since he has done a pretty good job pacing the team. Hinrich being constantly injured doesn't bother me as much since we have a better improved Teague this year but Noah being injured will leave a gaping hole in the middle. That 13th spot MUST go to a backup center but I do think Taj will surprise us this year and do a good job at center.

  • Well, I hope that silver lining is real silver, too. It'd be nice to see the Bulls handle Noah like the Celtics did with Garnett, who managed to play most of the games but was held out of certain back-to-backs and didn't always practice ... but was key in the playoffs for them. Without a healthy Noah, the Bulls go nowhere ... as there's no Asik, and we know about Booz's defensive deficiencies. Plus he's a facilitator on offense.

    I'm excited about this Snell kid, though, and expect Teague to play more good minutes this year. I also think Butler and Dunleavy will be huge for this team. IF this team can stay healthy, including the brittle but winner Hinrich, this team can win it all. And they seem to know it.

  • I agree with the 3 comments above. So many fans in previous years, myself included, made the same point as Doug about going into the playoffs rested and healthy.

    Developing Snell faster than the Bulls did with Butler could be a key to a championship this year. Maybe even Murphy can contribute. Find out!

    They will need a decent backup at C to contend. Hopefully that guy is on the roster, but it seems like a long shot. May need to trade for one later.

  • The lack of a back-up center, like Rusty says, is concerning. HOWEVER, that's the one position in the NBA today where it seems you can get away with not having a solid backup. It's worked out pretty well for Miami, huh? They have had a hobbled Bosh but still won.

    The one big exception is Indiana, which will be even better this year with Scola and Watson. And their starting lineup is huge and almost took Miami in 7. In some ways, they could prove to be a tougher matchup for the Bulls than Miami ... should be fun.

  • ere are a few more teams with big centers than just Indiana.

    I hope the idea that we're just crwating more time inn these preseason games to whittle the back end of the roster and see who can contribute early season.

    My fear, and I hope I'm wrong, is that Kirk's back is showing wear, and Noah is injury prone.

  • I should have clarified: Centers who can score. There's Hibbert, Duncan, Al Jefferson, Horford (who's a PF really) ... that's it. And Chicago will only be going through Indy ...

  • In reply to Curious E:

    Lopez can certainly score and is a legit 7 footer. Bynum if he is healthy, which I don't really expect, even though he is basically in a contract year. Dwight Howard can certainly score, especially against Noah(at least in the past). Andrew Boget who claims to be healthy this season used to be able to put the ball in the hole. Pau Gasol returns to his natural center position full time this season. That's 5 more without trying all that hard.

    Miami gets away with it(barely) because they have the best player in the game and a worthy side kick or 2, just like the Jordan Bulls did. Again, I'd feel a lot better about the Bulls championship aspirations if this team still had Asik, both as injury insurance for Noah, and as BozoHole insurance during the playoffs, especially against the Heat, and the Pacers and the Nets, and whomever we would face in the finals should we be fortunate enough to get there.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    There are several big centers who can score, but I thought we were talking about Taj and back-up centers? I don't think there are any back-up centers that Taj has to worry about, at least not that I can think of off the top of my head.

    Yeah there are certainly injury concerns with Noah, but the same can be said for Lopez, Bynum, Howard and Gasol. Which is why you're 100% correct that it would be great if the Bulls still had Asik as their backup center, and why there are 28 other teams who would also love to have Asik as their backup center.

  • Just wanted to throw a little math into everyone's minutes calculations.

    There just aren't that many minutes to go around, especially for those of you touting minutes for Teague, Snell and Murphy, especially since none of them is a center.

    If each of the starters averages 36 minutes a game, which isn't a lot there are only 60 total minutes left for everybody else. That would leave only 20 minutes each for Taj, Dunleavy and Hinrich without taking into account positional considerations. Thats why baring injuries and blowouts, it is pretty hard to get anybody else significant developmental minutes.

    As for Noah and Hinrich sitting for 3 days after working for 2, it has to be some cause for concern, especially if they didn't even work that hard on those 2 days(no actual 2 a days). Supposedly everybody came into camp completely healthy in world class shape.

    I kind of expect Hinrich to break down on multiple occasions during the season. We really cannot afford for Noah to do so, and I don't enjoy watching the Bulls nearly as much when he isn't playing.

    If neither even plays a minute on Saturday, then I would say that something is wrong, and here we go again.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Good calcs as to minutes, BigWay. I had not viewed it that way, but you make sense.

    I do not know the solution, but I suspect that the Bulls need a minimum of another 20 minutes so Snell and Teague can each get 10 minutes per game. How about 32 minutes per starter, that should do it.

    The potential problem is, some starter is likely to go down with an injury. If it is Deng, for example, then Snell can come in and play the SF, or more likely the SG with Butler moving to SF. But that is provided Snell is ready! He is more likely to be ready if he has been getting minutes needed to adjust to the NBA game.

    Hinrich is a candidate to miss multiple games, so Teague will be needed. Get him fully acclimated early in the season.

    An additional factor - suppose the Bulls are looking really great into December. So, unless Pittman or Thomas is doing really well, they decide that acquiring a solid backup C greatly ups their odds of a championship. How do they get that guy? Can they get the guy for just a pick?

    No team is going to want Nazr or Hinrich. Maybe they will want to offer Snell or Teague in a trade. Or even Murphy. But for any of these three to be tempting they will need to have been flashing potential. So they will have to have been playing. It is a poor strategy to keep these kids on the bench. The tactics are how and when to get them into the games. It will take smart coaching to do it.

  • Here goes the Bulls injury bug already...Noah out several pre season games with groin injury. These injuries are getting old and are too commom with this Bulls team. Bulls better go sign or trade for another big

  • It sure is great having the NBA back, even if it is just the preseason. Loved the intensity from both teams. Rose looked a bit rusty and didn't have a great game, but it is refreshing to see no hesitation of loss of athleticism so far. Snell, Murphy, and Teague all looked good in limited roles. Im still not sold on the Dunleavy signing, although he did make a few heads up plays. Taj looks to have a legit jumper this year, hopefully it can continue! If Taj plays even close to what he did tonight, how can Thibs not consider putting him into the starting lineup? A starting five of Rose, Butler, Deng, Gibson, and Noah is looking better and better on both ends of the floor.

  • In reply to Motoman:

    *hesitation OR loss of athleticism so far

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