DEERFIELD, Ill. – Joakim Noah’s usual exuberant expression has been replaced by the type of countenance the Bulls aren't used to seeing from the emotional big man: Frustration.
The 25-year-old center is having a hard time coming to grips with the fact a torn ligament in his thumb will prevent him from playing with his teammates for the next two months.
"It's frustrating, but it's part of the process," Noah said after Monday afternoon's practice.
Noah is hopeful that his teammates will rally around each other in his absence.
"I think that it could be a positive as well," he said. "We can get better in these two months. We can win basketball games in these two months. We're a very capable team and I think that it's just important that we get better defensively during this time. When it comes to the right rotations and shrinking the court, we can still get a lot better and we are."
Noah believes that the Bulls can draw some confidence from their success during Carlos Boozer's absence (broken right pinky) in the first month of the season.
"It says a lot about a team," he said of dealing with injuries. "We've already had some adversity on this team. And I think that it's all about dealing with adversity at the end of the day. Every good team goes through injuries, goes through tough times. So, it's not the end of the world, even though it's frustrating. You got to look at the big picture. We're a very capable team, and we're capable of winning basketball games and at the end of the day that's what makes us all happy."
Bulls point guard Derrick Rose knows that the only thing that will keep Noah happy is if his team stays hot. They had won seven games in a row before being knocked off by the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
"Win games," Rose said. "I don't think nobody will complain if you're out there winning games. I know that I would want to play if I was injured, but if we're winning, [there] ain't too much to say and there ain't too much to do. It's just a time where we're just waiting for his injury to heal and he'll be back with us soon."
For the time being, Noah is doing what he can to stay positive. He will have the splint taken off his hand Tuesday and will be placed in another cast. He expects to start doing more cardiovascular activity next week after spending some time with his family in New York City during the holidays.
"I'm just focused on right now," Noah said. "I've always been like that. I'm not trying to worry about what's going to happen in eight weeks right now. I can't play. I'm going to spend some time with my family, enjoy the holidays, and come back after the holidays and get back and get ready for work."
Noah is still expected to miss between 8-10 weeks.