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Thibs says Noah likely out for opener vs. Heat

Updated: October 24, 2013 10:30AM



WICHITA, Kan. — Joakim Noah’s pregame routine looked promising.

Jumpers from just beyond the free-throw line, followed by baseline dunk after baseline dunk.

But coach Tom Thibodeau crushed any hope that Noah might be ready for the regular-season opener on the road against the ­Miami Heat on Tuesday.

“[Wednesday] is like the first day he could shoot a ball, and it’s basically all straight-ahead stuff,’’ Thibodeau said before the preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Intrust Bank Arena. “He’s completely deconditioned, so we’re very concerned about that.’’

Noah has been sidelined with a strained groin most of camp and played only 19 minutes in one preseason game. He was in great shape when camp started, but that’s no longer the case.

But Noah wouldn’t rule himself out just yet for the game against the Heat.

“We evaluate every day,’’ Noah said. “I want to be out there as soon as I can. I just don’t want it to linger. It sucks. There’s nothing more that I want than to be out there on the court. It’s part of the process. A little groin injury, I have to be smart.’’

Noah was asked if Miami was in doubt, and he said, “It’s possible. But I’m not there yet. In my mind, I’m playing. I want to be out there as soon as I can. We’ll see when that is.’’

But considering the Heat will get its championship rings and raise the banner that night, Noah not being on the court to try to spoil the party admittedly has him bothered.

Noah wasn’t the only Bull in street clothes against the Thunder. Kirk Hinrich, still slowed with concussion-like symptoms, is waiting to pass the NBA’s protocol for head injuries.

All Hinrich could do was jog on the court. Thibodeau said Hinrich’s headaches are gone, but he’s still not ready to play.

Hinrich was hoping to get back on the court for the last exhibition Friday against the Denver Nuggets, but even that appeared doubtful.

If Noah is sidelined against the Heat, Taj Gibson is expected to get the start at center because of Miami’s smaller starting lineup.

Noah’s injury keeps Dexter Pittman in play for the last spot on the roster over guard Mike James. The 6-11 Pittman would play behind Gibson and Nazr Mohammed until Noah returns.

“The one thing about the preseason, Jo has only played 19 minutes, so we’ve had an opportunity to get a look at Taj at the five, a good look at [rookie Erik] Murphy at the four, and we really haven’t even gotten into Luol [Deng] at the four or Mike Dunleavy at the four or Jimmy [Butler] at the four yet,’’ Thibodeau said. “So we’ve got versatility to our team.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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