"This is the first basketball I’ve played in a while," said Noah. "I trained really hard all summer, just trying to be as ready as possible for this. It’s really exciting. We’re working really hard."

Noah on board with Gasol's mindset

By Adam Fluck | 10.01.2014 

Within days after last season ended, Joakim Noah successfully underwent minor arthroscopic surgery to clean out his left knee. 

An offseason spent rehabbing meant no basketball for Noah. But the All-Star center has been back on the floor this week and after two days of training camp, he reported no ill effects. 

“I feel pretty good,” said Noah on Wednesday. “This is the first basketball I’ve played in a while. I trained really hard all summer, just trying to be as ready as possible for this. It’s really exciting. We’re working really hard. As a team, we’re a work in progress. But overall I feel a lot better after the second practice than I did the first practice so that’s a plus.” 

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said the feedback he’s gotten from Noah is that he’s “feeling great” and that the team will continue to carefully monitor him. 

With the team’s eight-game preseason schedule getting underway on Monday, Thibodeau didn’t talk about any limitations for Noah, but did say that the plan is to play deep into his bench, which is normal this time of year. 

The last few games, Thibodeau plans to narrow it down to “most likely” a nine-man rotation that will be used to start the regular season. 

Pau Gasol, a veteran forward/center, has been playing with the starting five through the first two days of camp and there is an optimism that he and Noah will complement each other extremely well.

“It’s his versatility, his ability to play the four and the five,” Thibodeau said of Gasol. “And Jo’s strength is that he has the ability to guard fours and fives. So they actually complement each other quite well. Joakim may have to sacrifice some, but that’s never been an issue with Joakim. He’s always been a team first guy.” 

As for Noah, he’s just happy to have a player of Gasol’s stature on board. 

“I just thought there was no way we were going to get him,” said Noah, who helped recruit Gasol. “I think it says a lot about him as a player, about his mindset. He’s a huge addition to this team and to get to where we want to, everyone is going to have to play at a high level. It’s really exciting to have a player of his caliber here.” 

Gasol left more lucrative offers on the table, including the opportunity to stay with the Lakers, something Kobe Bryant urged him to do. But Noah didn’t even mention the financial aspects of Gasol’s decision—his thinking involved a comparison between winters in Los Angeles and Chicago when providing his explanation.

“Because it’s freezing out here,” Noah quipped. “I think the last time he came it was that polar vortex thing going on. It’s brutal. When you’re used to the beach every day, to pick the polar vortex says a lot.”

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