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updated: 1/4/2011 10:19 PM

Sidelined Noah thinks Bulls' 'potential is scary'

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Joakim Noah is expecting to have the cast removed from his right hand next week, but he's still more than a month away from returning to the court.

Noah had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb on Dec. 16. He's been doing some conditioning work at the Berto Center, but is mostly looking forward to the end of his sideline sentence.

"Being injured as an athlete (stinks)," the Bulls' center said before Tuesday's win over Toronto. "Am I learning anything (by watching)? No. I'm just learning that we're a pretty good basketball team. The potential is scary.

"We definitely have a ways to go. There are a lot of areas to improve on, but we're still in a pretty good place right now. I think we have a chance to do something pretty special here and that's exciting."

Since he'll be able to stay in shape, Noah should be back on the court whenever his thumb is healed, probably after the all-star break. He's skipping the New Jersey-Philadelphia trip to concentrate on working out.

"I've been running. I've been doing some conditioning," Noah said. "A lot of core work, a lot of leg strengthening. It's hard to make everything gamelike. There's nothing you can do to simulate a basketball game. I'm doing the best I can."

Bulls waive Lucas:

The Bulls released guard John Lucas III on Tuesday. He played just 10 minutes in two games after being signed on Nov. 26. The move was expected since all NBA contracts become guaranteed for the full season on Jan. 10.

The son of former NBA head coach John Lucas made it back to the league after a three-year absence. He played in Italy, Spain and China the past three seasons after starting his career with the Houston Rockets.

"I know I'm an NBA player. I know I belong here," Lucas said. "It's just a constant grind for me, which I don't mind, because it makes you appreciate the game a little bit more. It's not given to you.

"Just keep grinding, keep playing and God will take care of the rest."

Noah a novice announcer:

Joakim Noah might have sounded like a natural when he joined the Bulls' television broadcasters for the second half of last week's game against New Jersey. But he told a different story Tuesday.

"I was actually pretty nervous," Noah said. "It's tough. I had to cough at one point and I didn't know you had to push a button.

"People were talking in the ear piece. I didn't know you had to keep talking while that goes on. So I had to learn a lot on the fly. But overall, people said it was pretty good."

Bull horns:

Toronto extended its streak of games with at least one 3-point basket to 976 when Andrea Bargnani drained a long jumper on the second possession of Tuesday's contest. ... The Raptors played without guards Jose Calderon (ankle) and Sonny Weems (back spasms).

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