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Professional

NBA: Noah's scarce minutes, miscues in opener raise concern

Red flags full-mast

Somewhat lost in the Bulls’ desultory loss to the Heat on Tuesday was Joakim Noah logging just 20 minutes after missing almost the entire preseason with a sore groin.

Though Noah grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked two shots, he missed two dunks and fumbled passes. That indicates his timing is off, which is why the Bulls will continue to monitor his conditioning closely.

“Jo rebounded the ball well, but his timing isn’t there yet on offense,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He has to put the work in, and hopefully it will come back soon.”

Noah didn’t make excuses.

“I missed a lot of easy baskets around the rim,” he said. “I’ve got to play better. I’m going to keep working and I’ll be fine.”

Kirk Hinrich, the other wounded Bull, looked aggressive before fouling out in 29 minutes, 29 seconds, contributing six points and three assists. He wore a protective sleeve over his sore right shoulder.

Bookkeeping: The Bulls picked up contract options on Jimmy Butler and Marquis Teague.

Signing Butler to his fourth-year option was a no-brainer, given that the 30th pick in the 2011 draft will make just over $2 million in 2014-15 and has seized the starting shooting guard position. Such relatively cheap talent is crucial in the current collective bargaining agreement, which emphasizes surrounding maximum contracts with cheaper deals for solid players.

Picking up Teague’s third-year option proved a more difficult choice. While typically a formality for first-round picks, management had checked his tepid trade value around the league and debated his inconsistency.

But Teague’s $1.12 million option is only about $250,000 more than a league-minimum deal, so the decision didn’t have strong luxury-tax implications.

Teague, 20, also could provide future insurance should the Bulls not re-sign Hinrich after this season.

Rotation roulette: In a surprise, first-round pick Tony Snell played 6:44 when Mike Dunleavy struggled in the first half. Snell missed all three of his shots, including two open 3-pointers on the same possession, and struggled to contain LeBron James on one possession.

“The challenge for him is to be ready,” Thibodeau said. “That (opportunity) happens, whether it’s an injury or foul trouble. You need everybody. And you need everybody to play well. He got thrown into the fire. I’m sure he’ll learn from it. And he’ll be better the next time around.”

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