Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah is returning to the floor tonight against the Washington Wizards after missing the last nine games. In 2015-16, Noah’s age-30 season, he is being used regularly as a back-up for the first time in his career: Noah has appeared in 25 games so far this season, and has only started in one of them. Noah’s 4.5 points per game and 40.7% accuracy from the field both represent career lows.
Over those last nine games, the Bulls have gone 7-2, including a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder and two victories over the Toronto Raptors. Noah’s spot in the rotation was filled in by rookie Bobby Portis, who averaged 7.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game during Noah’s absence.
The Bulls enter tonight’s game against the Wizards tied with the Raptors in the Eastern Conference standings, four games behind the first-place Cleveland Cavaliers. With the Bulls at 22-13 and the Raptors at 24-15, the Bulls have played four fewer games than the Raptors up to this point.
Noah is in the last season of a five-year, $60 million contract, and will be a free agent this upcoming summer.