Injury knocks Bulls' Noah out of Olympics
Bulls center Joakim Noah has withdrawn from the French Olympic team, citing the badly sprained left ankle suffered in Game 3 of the playoffs against Philadelphia.
"I'm absolutely not ready," Noah said in Wednesday's edition of L'Equipe newspaper. "Not ready to run, not ready to jump. And even less to play."
Noah's ankle rolled completely sideways when he stepped on the foot of Sixers forward Andre Iguodala during a fastbreak opportunity. Noah didn't play the rest of the first-round series, though he warmed up before Game 6.
"I'm not in the form of someone bidding to compete in the Olympics," he added. "And given the problems that I have with my ankles, not going to the Olympics seemed to be the most reasonable decision."
The participation of San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker also is in doubt, due to a scratched cornea. France is scheduled to face Team USA in its Olympic opener July 29.
Noah should be fully recovered by the start of next season, but this news illustrates the dilemma facing the Bulls as they decide whether to match a hefty offer sheet Houston reportedly is ready to give backup center Omer Asik.
If Asik leaves, the Bulls have very little means available to sign a replacement big man this summer, and the list of free agents is not strong.
Add Lee to wish list:
Another potential free-agent target for the Bulls became available when Houston rescinded its qualifying offer to shooting guard Courtney Lee, making him an unrestricted free agent.
The 6-foot-5 Lee, a fifth-year pro from Western Kentucky, averaged 11.4 points last season and shot .439 from the field. He was less accurate from 3-point range, shooting 38.6 percent.
Like first-round draft pick Marquis Teague, Lee attended Pike High School in Indianapolis.
Two seasons ago, when the Bulls were starting Keith Bogans at shooting guard, the Rockets offered to trade Lee for center Omer Asik and the Bulls turned them down.
Whether or not they match the Asik offer sheet, the Bulls have only the $3 million midlevel exception to lure free agents, and they can sign as many players as they want for the league minimum, which varies based on a player's experience.
So the big question is whether a $3 million offer will be enough to lure Lee or Kirk Hinrich, believed to be the Bulls' top targets.
They also are in the running for former Portland shooting guard Brandon Roy, who is planning a comeback after retiring a year ago because of knee problems.
The Bulls have to decide by next Tuesday whether to pick up contract options on Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer. Brewer almost certainly won't be back, while the Bulls likely are waiting to see if cheaper alternatives can be found for the other two. …Team USA opens training camp Thursday in Las Vegas. Bulls forward Taj Gibson will be part of the select team that will scrimmage against the varsity. Because of all the injuries, Team USA is down to 15 candidates for 12 spots but still has LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler available, among others.