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Luol Deng says Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich expected to play against Heat

Bulls center Joakim Noah gets loose for dunk first quarter Chicago Bulls-Miami Hegame Thursday February 21 2013 United Center .

Bulls center Joakim Noah gets loose for a dunk in the first quarter of the Chicago Bulls-Miami Heat game Thursday February 21, 2013 at the United Center . | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 1, 2013 7:31AM

Coach Tom Thibodeau answered injury questions about his team like he usually does: as vaguely as possible.

What he said Monday was that center Joakim Noah (groin) and guard Kirk Hinrich (concussion, shoulder) were full participants in practice for the second consecutive day. But he was noncommittal when asked if they would play in the season opener Tuesday against the Heat in Miami.

‘‘We’ll see,’’ Thibodeau said.

Noah insisted Sunday he wouldn’t miss the game, then forward Luol Deng said Monday that Noah and Hinrich both were expected to play.

Before the game, the Heat will hold a ring ceremony to commemorate the second of its back-to-back NBA titles. Thibodeau said the Bulls won’t be on the court for the celebration.

‘‘Nah, that’s their moment,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ll be in the locker room.’’

Deng said that was fine with him.

‘‘I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t want to be out there,’’ Deng said. ‘‘I’m happy for them, it’s great for them, but it doesn’t make sense for me to watch it.’’

Open arms

Heat star LeBron James told ESPN he was thrilled to see Bulls star Derrick Rose back after he missed all of last season recovering from a surgically repaired left knee. James said he wanted to reach out to Rose before the game and let him know that.

‘‘There’s nothing wrong with that,’’ Rose said. ‘‘I appreciate it. At the same time, [I’m] just trying to stay focused on what we’ve got going on here.’’

Another day

Deng, who will be eligible for free agency after the season, continued to deflect questions about his future.

Asked if he thought this was the last season the Bulls would have a chance at beating the Heat with the current roster, Deng said: ‘‘I’ll answer that as a GM: ‘I would like to see everyone back here next year and give it another run, no matter what happens this year.’ ’’


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