Joakim Noah had successful surgery to repair the ulna collateral ligament of his right thumb Thursday morning and the Bulls are still estimating that the 6-11 center will be sidelined eight to 10 weeks.
Former Bull Kirk Hinrich had similar surgery two years ago and was sidelined nine weeks before returning to action.
"Hopefully, it will be similar," trainer Fred Tedeschi said of Noah's recovery. "You've got to let the ligament heal. The biology is the biology, so hopefully it'll follow a good course and somewhere in the next eight to 10 weeks we'll get him back on the court."
Obviously, the loss of a player like Noah is a big deal. He is without a doubt one of the top 10 centers in the NBA and the Bulls don't another player who can step in and duplication his production.
But with that said, general manager Gar Forman believes the Bulls (16-8) will be able to survive, and perhaps even continue to prosper, during Noah's absence.
"Obviously, it's a loss, but I think we've got enough depth where we still have a chance to be competitive each and every night and have a chance to win," Forman said.
Coach Tom Thibideau hasn't said who would move into the starting lineup in Noah's place, but Taj Gibson, Omer Asik and Kurt Thomas all will see increased playing time.
"The biggest frustration for me is for Joakim because of everything he's put into it and now he has to sit for whatever this is, eight to 10 weeks," Forman said. "That's part of the game. You don't want to have injuries and now we've had two major injuries, but we do feel we have guys and it's gonna be an opportunity for them to step in."
Besides repairing the complete tear of the thumb ligament, the surgeons also treated two other sprained ligaments in the hand with injections.
Noah suffered the injury on Nov. 27 at Sacramento and Tedeschi said he was surprised he was able to play with it for nearly three weeks. Noah had 11 points and 11 rebounds in his finale Wednesday night in the Bulls 110-93 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
'I think this speaks a lot to Joakim's character, but everyone of these I've seen - either through pain or instability - they've never been able to play and surgery was immediately called into question," Tedeschi said.
"Joakim was able to function at a high level, which is very, very, very unusual for these injuries."