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Joakim Noah hopes to return to Bulls next season

Joakim Noah’s season is likely over, but he’s hoping his time in Chicago isn’t.

An unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, Noah said Tuesday that he would like to return to the Bulls next season.

“I hope so,” he said, via ESPN. “Right now I’m not trying to focus on the future. I just had season-ending surgery last week. But this is all I know. So I’m looking forward to see what the guys are doing, and right now it’s just all about taking a step back and just focusing on getting healthy and then we’ll go from there.”

The veteran big man dislocated his shoulder after getting tangled with Mavericks center JaVale McGee on Jan. 15.

Noah has spent his entire nine-year career with the Bulls, and has been a staple in Chicago’s lineup since being selected with the ninth pick in the 2007 draft.

But he’s averaged a career-low 4.3 points per game this year and was removed from Chicago’s starting lineup prior to the start of the season by first-year coach Fred Hoiberg.

Once the centerpiece of Chicago’s defensive-minded scheme under coach Tom Thibodeau, Noah no longer seems to fit under the more offensive-oriented Hoiberg.

If he has played his final game in a Bulls uniform, Noah will finish as the franchise’s career leader in offensive rebounds, third in blocks, fourth in total rebounds and ninth in minutes played.

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Stats via Basketball-Reference