The Bulls announced today that center Joakim Noah -- who has missed a total of 10 games so far with plantar fasciitis of the left foot -- will be shut down for at least the next three weeks.
"We'll sit him down for a few weeks and see how he feels," coach Vinny Del Negro said of Noah. "That's what [the medical staff is] saying, that's the plan right now. That's where it's at, three weeks and we'll go from there.
"He has to come back and fight through the pain. We'll give a few weeks and, hopefully, he reacts better to that. That's the plan right now."
Noah also was shut down for about three weeks around the All-Star break last month and then returned to play in four games. He played 27 minutes in his final appearance last Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers and the pain (which never really went away completely) intensified again, forcing him to the sidelines.
Noah is averaging 10.7 points and 11.4 rebounds for the season, but his rebounding average was above 12 for much of the season before the injury surfaced and cut into his playing time and production.
The Bulls have brought back forward/center Chris Richard to help fill some of the void, but replacing Noah's production will have to be a team effort.
"I don't know if you do replace him," Del Negro said. "He's the second-leading rebounder in the whole NBA. He brings a lot of energy, great spirit to the game for us, gets us [extra] possessions and gets us out on the break. His offense has been developing all year and his development overall has been big.
"It's a big loss, but other guys have to step up. We just have to try to manage it. The biggest concern is rebounding the basketball. When we play bigger frontlines, not having his length back there is an issue. Other guys have to step up and play well and other guys have to pick their performance up until he comes back."
The Bulls have their fingers crossed that the rest will work this time and ease the pain enough to allow Noah to be effective.