Joakim Noah has taken direction from a variety of mentors since being drafted by the Bulls in 2007, from Ben Wallace to Brad Miller to Kurt Thomas.
Now that Thomas decided to sign with Portland instead of returning to the Bulls, there isn't a veteran big man on the roster other than Carlos Boozer, 30. Unless the Bulls add someone, Noah is on his own.
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"Yeah, Kurt was a big part of our locker room," Noah said Wednesday. "A real funny guy and somebody that worked hard every day. People underestimate how much he brought to this team. Not just on the court, because that's obvious, but off the court as well.
"I enjoyed playing with all those guys. They're all so different. I love learning from all those guys. They all taught me something different."
Asked if the Bulls will miss Thomas' presence, Noah had a reasonable response.
"Only time will tell," he said.
Noah glad to be back:
Joakim Noah also shared his thoughts on training camp starting in December after a delay of more than two months due to the lockout.
"It just puts things in perspective -- how much you miss the game as a player, how much you want to be back out here, how much you want to be back practicing at the Berto, how much you miss being around the guys, talking trash in the locker room," he said.
"All those things are things you miss as a player. When they take that away from you, it definitely put things in perspective. That's why I feel it's an exciting time right now."
Thibs says deal with it:
Coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't want to hear any complaints about the compressed 66-game schedule, which means fewer days off, and the quick start to the game schedule.
"It is what it is," he said. "To me, once they made those decisions, it's how you respond to whatever is in front of you. It's not going to change. It does no good to complain about it. The only thing we're concerned with is have a great camp, get ready for the first game. Everyone's facing the same thing. Once we get started, everything will be fine."
Thibodeau on Luol Deng: "Luol, you can't say enough about him. He's in the best shape of anybody." … Noah on the state of his teammates: "We're a really hungry group. We're ready to go. We're excited for the challenge. We know what our goal is, we want to win a championship and it starts with camp."