Noah to play in preseason opener


DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Center Joakim Noah will start for the Chicago Bulls when they open their preseason schedule against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Noah was away from the team for several days to deal with family matters. The Bulls take on the Memphis Grizzlies in the first of seven preseason contests.

The Bulls, who dealt with a shortened training camp and preseason due to the lockout last season, are happy to have the normal exhibition schedule to prepare.

"Last year it showed us," Thibodeau said. "Seven or eight games and the month is really what is needed and not just by the players. Everybody."

There will be plenty of new faces in Bulls uniforms, including backup guard Nate Robinson, who is one of nine players making their Bulls debuts.

"I know it's preseason, but I take every game serious," Robinson said. "For me, it’s an honor ... Hopefully (the fans) will welcome me with open arms."

Taking Derrick Rose's place in the starting lineup will be Kirk Hinrich, who begins his second stint with the team. That familiarity with Chicago is one of the reasons the Bulls acquired him this summer.

"He's been around," Thibodeau said. "He's been in the league for a long time. He's not going to try and do things that he can't do. He knows the strength and weaknesses of his teammates."

Thibodeau said he plans on easing the starters into game condition, probably subbing for them 7-8 minutes into the game. Young players such as Jimmy Butler and rookie Marquis Teague will get an opportunity to impress.

"You have to practice well consistently before you can ever think of playing well in a game," Thibodeau said. "If they're not on the floor their responsibility is to study what's going on and encourage their teammates. And just stay ready. You never know when that opportunity comes."