Joakim Noah's ankle injury could be 'very minor'

Bulls center Joakim Noah wasn't able to join the French national team for the start of training camp, which began Wednesday, due to a right ankle injury that he suffered March 28, sidelining him for three games late in the regular-season.

Instead, Noah was sent home -- reportedly, Chicago -- to rehabilitate his right ankle, and will be joined by a representative sent by the French basketball federation "to coordinate the rehabilitation program of the player in accordance with his agent."

Considering Noah's injury history -- he has missed 52 games the last two seasons -- this is when Bulls fans began worrying about the 6-11 center whom the Bulls signed to a five-year, $60 million contract extension before last season. However, it might not be too bad after all.

According to HOOPSWORLD's Alex Kennedy via Twitter: "Joakim Noah's ankle is fine - it was a very minor injury. He'll rest in Chicago and will definitely be ready for #EuroBasket2011."

You never want to see a player be sent home by his team due to medical problems, but it seems like a non-issue unless Noah is unable to rehab the ankle in time for competition, which begins on August 31 when France faces Latvia.

The real worry would set in if Noah suffers a setback or misses games. That's when you'd get a good idea that his right ankle is more than a reported sprain. And, remember: Noah suffered the injury March 28 and played through it late in the season.

Still, expect Noah to miss much of France's training camp. But there's no question that he should be ready for France's first game against Latvia.

Derrick Rose branching out: There had been conflicting reports on whether Bulls guard Derrick Rose would head to the Philippines for a pair of exhibition games this weekend, but it's becoming more and more official that he will indeed.

Rose (or his marketing staff) posted on his official Facebook page Thursday night: "Just touched down in the Philippines!! Some serious hoops fans out here! Who's coming to see us play?"

Filipinos will have plenty to cheer about this weekend. Rose joins a star-studded, nine-player squad, including former MVP, five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, All-Star point guard Chris Paul, two-time NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant and former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans.

The way Rose spoke last week, it seemed as though he was too down in the dumps to do anything but stay low-key, rest and work out. Though it seems he will do all those things throughout the summer, he'll spend more time marketing/branding himself this summer than the last two with the Bulls.

According to reports, he's scheduled for a return visit to the Philippines and will head to China for an adidas promotional tour in August. Every star goes through their own personal marketing -- yes, even the humble, soft-spoken Rose.

It took him three seasons in the NBA -- including two All-Star game appearances and the league MVP award -- but Rose is finally branching out.

Michael Jordan lands on NBA 2K cover for second straight year: Bulls legend, known by many as the greatest player of all-time, Michael Jordan, 48, will grace the NBA 2K12 cover, his second consecutive year dawning the cover for the top-selling, top-rated NBA game. However, he won't be alone.

Two other retired legends will join him as cover boys for NBA 2K12, which might be the only way you'll get to watch your favorite present NBA stars this fall: L.A. Lakers' Magic Johnson and Boston Celtics' Larry Bird.

Here's the twist: There will be three separate covers for Jordan, Johnson and Bird; fans will get to choose which one they want to get.

It seemed last season's MVP, Derrick Rose, had a good chance of dawning the cover.

NBA 2K's official Facebook page held a poll asking fans, "The NBA 2K12 cover athlete SHOULD BE _______?" The 22-year-old Bulls star was the fans' top choice, garnering 16,919 votes. Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, the 2011 Finals MVP, came in second with 9,854 votes. For the record, Miami's LeBron James came in a distant third with 5,676 votes.

Though their current star, Rose, was snubbed, Chicago still has a former Bulls star to choose from in Jordan. 2K Sports hasn't revealed the game's features, however, you've got to assume each game has a unique challenge -- dubbed the "Jordan Challenge" in NBA 2K11 -- involving the cover athlete.

With a probable lengthy lockout on the horizon, NBA fans will need any source of entertainment they can get. This could be NBA 2K's most important year yet.

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