Joakim Noah to have cast removed

1/27/2011 - NBA Joakim Noah Chicago Bulls + more

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah is expected to get the cast taken off his right hand on Monday and will start the rehab process in full soon after.

Noah, who injured the thumb on Nov. 27 against Sacramento and had surgery to repair the torn ligament on Dec. 16, is excited to finally get back on the floor.

"I just want to come back as soon as possible," he said after Thursday's practice. "As soon as my hand is healthy, I want to be back there, regardless of what game it is."

Noah had the pin taken out of his thumb on Tuesday and admitted there was a minor complication to the procedure.

"The doctors did a great job getting the pin out. It was a little bent apparently," Noah said. "It's usually a 10-minute procedure, and it took a little bit longer than that. It's probably my fault. But I'm happy it's done. I don't have a pin in my finger anymore, and I'm just waiting for it to heal."

Noah wasn't sure why the pin was bent.

"Lifting weights or something," he said. "The doctor wasn't very happy about it. So Dr. [Mark] Cohen, I apologize. I made your job a little harder than you probably wanted to, but he's a nice guy, and I'm happy that he got the pin out without it breaking. I'm happy that I'll be back healthy soon."

Noah is hopeful that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau will allow him to join his teammates on their West Coast road trip which starts on Tuesday.

"It's Thibs' decision unfortunately," Noah said. "I told him that I was going to get on the plane and he'd have to kick me off, physically take me off the plane. I really want to go on this trip."

Noah, who is hopeful to be back in game action in the next few weeks, is just glad he'll finally be able to ditch the various casts he has had to wear over the past month.

"Being in a cast, I'm claustrophobic," he said. "So at nights sometimes I freak out when I have the cast, but hey, four more days."

Derrick Rose is anxious to get Noah back and have the Bulls at full strength.

"That's exciting, knowing that he's working out every day, getting his conditioning right," Rose said. "Knowing he'll be back with us and everybody will be healthy, I just can't wait to see how he looks."

The Bulls are 15-6 without Noah, who is averaging 14 points and 11.6 rebounds a game.

Nick Friedell covers the Bulls for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.