Chicago Bulls fans have spent the large majority of the past two seasons worrying about the stability and condition of Derrick Rose's knees. With the 2011 NBA MVP though now back to game ready status fans of the famous franchise would have been hoping to be able to rest easy over the coming months.
That might not be possible however with Thursday bringing news that while Rose may be well on the way to regaining his place amongst the NBA's top stars, another key cog in the Chicago Bulls machine is suffering from fears about his own knees on the eve of the new season.
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Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, citing a source close to the player, believes that Joakim Noah is battling with a new level of pain in his left knee following surgery this offseason, an issue that could remain throughout the campaign.
"Jo's (left) knee is going to be an issues all season," Cowley reports his source as saying.
"He has played through pain before with the plantar (fasciitis), but this is completely different, a different level."
Noah is known as a dogged, never-say-die type of player so to hear that he is worried about the lingering effects of surgery suggests that it must be fairly serious.
The player himself remained vague on his rehabilitation progress when quizzed on the injury earlier this month.
"Just making sure the swelling is down. It’s just a lot of rehab, and it’s boring, boring stuff. But you just have to stay on top of it, be patient. I’m sure it will come back to where I want it to be.’’
But many were hopeful that he would be free to return to top form unaffected by the injury before the year was out.
The news that one of their most dynamic ball players may not be free to reach the heights that saw him named 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year is not what Bulls fans will have been hoping for with just days to go before they begin what could well be a defining season under Tom Thibodeau.
Further information from Cowley's source however may offer some hope.
Although claiming that Noah entered Chicago camp "panicked" about his knee, the report claims that the center originally feared he may miss the Bulls opening games of the season.
Having appeared in six of the franchise's seven preseason games however Noah has at least alleviated such fears to a point, offering hope that a full recovery from surgery will come over time.
With Derrick Rose going off against the Cavs - scoring 30 points in just 24 minutes - and the likes of Pau Gasol now around to shoulder some responsibility, a fit and healthy Joakim Noah would certainly make the Chicago Bulls serious contenders out in the East.