Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas have each seen limited action thus far as the Bulls visiting Memphis tonight, a few days after the Chicago Tribune’s KC Johnson called attention to the duo’s residence in Vinny Del Negro’s doghouse.

After Wednesday’s practice, Del Negro responded to fairly benign questions regarding the recent minutes of Noah and Thomas with the most pointed words of his brief tenure as coach.

Del Negro said of them: “They’re young and have to find their way. When you’re on the court, you have to value those minutes. The guys who are focused, know their role, commit to it and come with effort every day will play.

“I can handle mistakes. But I can’t handle lack of effort. And I can’t handle lack of commitment to the team. Those guys know that. They’re working better. That’s always a work in progress with a young team.”

Such words suggest a transgression along the lines of Thomas skipping practice last season in premeditated fashion, which drew a two-game suspension from general manager John Paxson. Del Negro denied any such wrongdoing had occurred and responded to a follow-up question about the shortcomings of Noah and Thomas by explaining his philosophy of commitment.

“Commitment is coming in with energy every day, with focus, trying to get better, lifting weights, being on time, paying attention in meetings, being ready to play, knowing what your role is, who you’re guarding, what their strengths and weaknesses are, how you can affect the team in a positive way,” he said. “Commitment is being a professional, working every day to get better individually. As that happens, the team gets better.”

Without wishing the parties involved anything but the most successful of working relationships, surely Thomas and Noah are fortunate to be learning at the knee of such a paragon of professionalism?