Bulls center Joakim Noah sits next to Derick Rose after fouling out in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls 104-94 loss to the Miami Heat in game three of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinal game May 10, 2013. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: December 11, 2013 12:04AM
Coach Tom Thibodeau is full of surprises. Or at least full of something.
Asked after the Bulls’ shootaround Tuesday whether any players besides Luol Deng (left Achilles), Jimmy Butler (turf toe), Mike James (right knee) and, of course, Derrick Rose (right knee) were injured, Thibodeau responded, ‘‘No.’’ He also didn’t divulge any new information during his pregame media session.
Maybe it was an oversight, but center Joakim Noah was ruled out of the game against the Milwaukee Bucks because of a bruised right thigh suffered Saturday against the Detroit Pistons. That meant the Bulls opened a stretch of four games in five days with only nine healthy bodies and a starting lineup of Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer, Nazr Mohammed, Tony Snell and Kirk Hinrich. Only Boozer is a regular starter.
‘‘Well, you’ve got to be the same every day,’’ Thibodeau said of a season in which there have been so many injuries. ‘‘I think that’s important in this league. There are times where you may have the schedule going in your favor and you may be completely healthy, and there are times where the schedule is not going in your favor and you have injuries.
‘‘You don’t get here by accident. Everyone is capable. And if we play well, we’ll have a good chance to win. This is the NBA. You’ve got to get through things.’’
As far as when everyone besides Rose — who is out for the season — will return, James was cleared to go and Deng and Noah seem very close. Butler, though, still has to show some things in practice and get his conditioning up after missing 10 games.
‘‘Terrible,’’ Butler said of the rehab process. ‘‘I hate sitting out, hate missing games. I always want to play, always want to be out there going through everything with my guys, my teammates.’’
When Butler is ready to return, Thibodeau said he is unsure if he will bring him back as a starter right away or ease him back into the rotation, especially with Snell putting in some solid minutes in his place.
‘‘I want to see where [Butler] is conditioning-wise,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘He’s moving a lot better, so that’s a good sign, but we’ll see how it unfolds. Whatever he can give us will be a big plus. He adds a lot to our team. It might not be his normal minutes initially, but he’ll get there.’’