Jimmy Butler ‘surprised’ Bulls will bring Joakim Noah off the bench

Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler, left, drives against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert (4) during the first half of Game 1 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series Monday, May 4, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Tony Dejak/AP

CHICAGO — The Bulls have a new head coach in Fred Hoiberg, and he’s been tasked with getting a higher level of production from what is essentially the same talented group who made it to the second round of the playoffs under Tom Thibodeau last season.

One of the ways to do that is to shuffle the lineups and rotations, and after the starters for opening night were announced, it became clear that Joakim Noah, at least to start the season, had become the odd man out.

Noah will come off the bench Tuesday against the Cavaliers, after starting in every appearance he’s made with the Bulls for four out of the last five seasons. Noah himself has admitted it will be a bit of an adjustment, and one of his teammates said that the coach’s decision indeed came as a bit of a surprise.

“Will it work? I hope it does,” Jimmy Butler said Saturday, at the grand opening of Jordan Brand’s 32 South State retail space. ”I think Jo is willing to do whatever it takes for our team to win.

"Surprised? I mean, yeah. You have to kind of be surprised. But I think it’s better for us not to play [Pau Gasol] and Jo at the same time. You throw [Nikola Mirotic] in there, you throw [Taj Gibson] in there. Taj and Jo play great together. Jo likes to throw that lob over the top to Taj, which he’ll probably do 12 times in the next week. Jo’s a hell of a player, and we need him in order to win games.”

It’s not yet known whether this will be a short- or long-term lineup change in Chicago. But it’s clear that Hoiberg isn’t afraid to shake things up in order to get everything he can out of the talent that’s currently in place on the roster, even if some of the team’s more tenured players are initially shocked by his decisions. 

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