Joakim Noah could miss Bulls opener

WICHITA, Kan. -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (groin) and guard Kirk Hinrich (concussion) will not play in Wednesday night's preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder and are "not very [close]" to returning, according to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

Their availability for Tuesday's regular-season opener at Miami also appears in doubt.

"It's possible," Noah said of missing the Heat game. "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, so we'll see when that is."

Thibodeau said Noah hasn't been able to do much in practice -- having played just 20 minutes in the preseason -- but the All-Star center said he's feeling all right.

"I feel better," Noah said. "Just working. In my work I'm feeling a lot better and I'm just going to keep going. Keep going until I feel comfortable being out there."

Thibodeau said Noah's conditioning is "not very good" at the moment, but Noah hopes he'll be able to get back on the floor soon.

"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. ... There's nothing more that I want than to be out there on the court, but it's part of the process. A little groin injury -- I just have to be smart and I want to be out there as soon as possible and help the team."

Thibodeau is clearly frustrated with the way Noah's rehab is coming along.

"Today is like the first time he could shoot a ball and it's just basically straight ahead stuff," Thibodeau said before Wednesday night's game. "He's completely deconditioned, so we're very concerned about that."

Hinrich suffered a concussion last Friday in a win against the Indiana Pacers when he fell into rookie Erik Murphy's knee. He had hoped to be out only a couple days but still has not passed the league's concussion protocol.

Thibodeau said Hinrich was only cleared to run Wednesday.

"He can run a little bit, that's about it," Thibodeau said. "The headaches are gone."

The good news for the Bulls is that Jimmy Butler played Wednesday after missing the last week and a half because of knee soreness. Butler banged knees with Washington Wizards guard John Wall in a preseason game Oct. 12 and has not played since.

"I'll probably play," Butler said before the game. "I feel good, man. I feel like it was just a little rest and a lot of rehab. I'm feeling back to normal. Let's see how we move and jump off of it."