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Friday, July 19, 2013
Thibodeau: Noah's minutes will decrease

By Nick Friedell

Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah averaged a career-high 36.8 minutes a game last season.
LAS VEGAS -- Joakim Noah will continue to be a focal point for the Chicago Bulls but he will not be logging as many minutes as he did last season, coach Tom Thibodeau said Thursday.

"Jo's minutes will come down," Thibodeau said during the Las Vegas Summer League. "We got strung out there because Kirk [Hinrich] got hurt. We had to really run our offense through Jo. But the second half of the season we got his minutes down which was probably a good number for him. Luol [Deng] may come down a couple minutes but when you look at small forwards in this league, they all play those type of minutes.

"For us how he and our team matches up with LeBron [James] with Paul George and Kevin Durant, those guys are all in the 37-38 minute area. But I do feel really good about our depth so I think that's going to be a big plus. Our bench is going to be one of our strengths next season. We're going to look to take advantage of that."

Noah was a league leader in minutes during the first half of the season alongside teammate and fellow All-Star Deng. The pair averaged almost 40 minutes a game before Noah broke down because of plantar fasciitis and Deng dealt with complications from a spinal tap during the playoffs. Bulls general manager Gar Forman said recently that Noah and the organization would work on finding the right kind of orthodics to put in the center's shoes, but he believes Noah is feeling much better.

"He feels good," Forman said. "Probably the most important thing for that injury is to rest. So he's gotten rest and his foot feels good so everything's been real positive there. He's training now. We anticipate that he'll be 100 percent ready to go."

As for Deng, the Bulls are confident that he will be fully healthy for training camp.

"He's feeling a lot better also," Forman said. "Obviously that was kind of a freaky type deal (with his illness). He's been traveling quite a bit but in all our communication he's got his weight back on, he's feeling good and this is the first summer where he's going to get some rest in a long time because of his commitments to the (British) National Team. So Luol's doing great."

Hinich has also recovered from a calf injury that kept him out of a large portion of the playoffs. Forman said Hinrich continues to train at the Berto Center and is expected to be ready to go for training camp. Hinrich's presence off the bench is one of the biggest reasons Thibodeau is so confident in his reserves this season.

"The thing is when you look at the bench now, Kirk in my eyes is a starter," Thibodeau said. "Taj [Gibson] is a starter, and Mike Dunleavy -- he's proven to be, he's done both. He's been very effective as a starter. He's been very effective coming off the bench. So those are three guys, when we put them in, that's going to be a big plus for us. And then of course having Nazr [Mohammed] back is another plus. And then I'm impressed with our rookies [Tony Snell and Erik Murphy]. Our rookies have done a good job. They can shoot and I think we've addressed that need."