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Chicago Bulls To Welcome Back Joakim Noah After All-Star Break

How long has it been since the Chicago Bulls lost center Joakim Noah to an injured right thumb? A little over six weeks, if you go by the date on which the team announced he would undergo surgery (Dec. 16). Time flies when you're having fun, eh? The Bulls have won 17 games since that date, with comeback-vet-of-the-season candidate Kurt Thomas playing many of Noah's minutes along with more youthful contributions from Taj Gibson and Omer Asik.

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Well, here's some good news to top off your "so far, so great" 2010-11 Bulls sundae: Noah will be back in the starting lineup "probably right after All-Star break," or so head coach Tom Thibodeau told Tribune beat writer K.J. Jones today. In fact, Johnson also helpfully tweeted that Joakim will get his cast removed this afternoon and could be cleared for "non-contact practice" as soon as tomorrow. The 25-year-old cool dude-man will accompany the team on its upcoming five-game, West Coast jaunt through California, Oregon, Utah and ... uh ... Louisiana.

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In case you haven't marked your calendar yet, the NBA All-Star game will be held in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m. Central. That means we'll probably see Noah suited up and back on the court for the Bulls in either their road game against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, Feb. 23 (perhaps a good, low-key setting to try out his legs), or in a marquee match-up at the United Center against Eastern Conference rivals and all-around ne'er-do-wells the Miami Heat on Thursday, Feb. 24.