Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau explained that center Joakim Noah didn’t play down the stretch against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday due to a minutes limit.
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Thibodeau revealed that Noah is still on a playing limit of 32 minutes per game, and essentially he ran out of minutes to use him with against OKC.
It came as a surprise to many given that the Bulls center has started to play some of the best basketball of his season so far and has shown no negative signs in terms of suffering a setback.
Back in January, the 30-year-old played a season-high 42 minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers in a double-overtime loss while he played 40 minutes against the Golden State Warriors on January 27.
However, it is clear that the minutes restriction has since been reintroduced as he hasn’t been playing more than 33 minutes in recent weeks.
Noah had left knee surgery last summer and it is understood that the front office didn’t want him playing more than his allotted minutes with point guard Derrick Rose playing under a similar agreement after coming off a torn meniscus last year.
“I ran out of minutes with him,” Thibodeau said, ESPN reports.
“But I thought Jo played a very good game for us.”
While Pau Gasol conceded that he wasn’t aware of the minutes restriction, Noah declined to speak to reporters after the game with some noting that he appeared upset and frustrated as the Bulls continue to struggling with Rose, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson all sidelined due to injury.
Off the court, it threatens to be just the latest area of concern for Bulls fans with intense and prolonged speculation suggesting that all is not well between Thibodeau and the front office.