The Chicago Bulls have not made final decisions yet on a starting lineup to open the season, but head coach Fred Hoiberg has options and he could start Nikola Mirotic and have Joakim Noah come off the bench. Derrick Rose may not be ready to start the season after his facial injury and if that happens, Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, Mirotic and Tony Snell could be the starters.
The Bulls are hoping to have Derrick Rose back for opening night, but the point guard may not be ready to start after suffering a facial injury in training camp. According to the Chicago Tribune, KC Johnson reports that Rose has not been cleared for full contact yet, but that he "took some contact from coaches" in practice this week. Rose has been wearing a face mask to help protect his injury and has been dealing with some blurry vision.
Hoiberg said that Rose is making progress and that if he is not ready to go to start the season, Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks will make up his minutes. Hoiberg has been working on the starting lineups in the preseason and on Tuesday night he had Joakim Noah coming off of the bench with Mirotic, Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell and Gasol starting. Hoiberg said to Johnson that there is "nothing finalized" for the opening night lineup, but Johnson speculates that the Bulls could use Noah off the bench to open the season.
Noah said to Johnson that he wants to do "whatever is best for the team" and that it's "not about me." Johnson wrote on Twitter that Noah has started 463 of his 543 regular season games in his career, while Pau Gasol has started 970 of 983 games. The Bulls are using a new offensive system with Hoiberg and the new lineup could give the team some size and depth advantages. While having Noah out to start is tough, not many teams can bring a player of his caliber off the bench.
Noah dealt with some injuries last season and he played in 67 games, averaging 7.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Rose is hoping to start the season active for the Bulls, as he has dealt with serious injuries over the past couple years with his knees. Rose played in 51 games last season, his highest total since 2010 and he averaged 17 points, 4.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds. Jimmy Butler is the key player for the Bulls now anyway and he comes in after setting career highs with 20 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
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