Joakim Noah gave his best years to the Chicago Bulls. If Noah leaves the Bulls, as many have expected since his injury-plagued season ended in January, it will be because the Bulls and Noah differ over his value at this stage of the 31-year-old’s career — not because of Noah’s perceived differences with the front office.
According to the Chicago-Sun Times, Noah has reportedly told his teammates that he is done with the organization once free agency begins. Noah has spent each of his nine NBA seasons with the Bulls since being drafted ninth overall in 2007. The two-time All-Star’s most recent season was undoubtedly his worst since entering the league.
Noah-stays-home scenario seems unlikely with the NBA salary cap expanding thanks to the influx of television revenue that creates a market even for centers coming off shoulder surgery and a career-low 4.3 points per game. But that would be the case with or without front-office friction.
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Nobody will expect Noah to settle for less money to stay in town. Remember, it’s the NBA, where the Lakers just paid center Roy Hibbert $15.5 million to average 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
Thus the bidding for Noah could go higher than the Bulls are willing to pay an aging center for leadership, Noah’s greatest asset on a team looking to get younger and more athletic.
Noah has been the heart and soul for a Chicago team that has been plagued with injuries to star Derrick Rose. Noah meant so much to the Bulls’ identity over the years.
His passion and energy for the game is what kept the Bulls in games. He has a nose for the ball, a great rebounder and shot blocker. Speaking of rebounding, it is something that the Spurs lacked during their postseason run.
Noah’s impending free agency presents an intriguing option for the Spurs.
Time and injury have weathered Noah, who is only two years removed from a season that earned him All-NBA First Team honors.
Though not the force he was in his prime, Noah is still an unrelenting 6-foot-11 mass of raw energy. He averaged 5.4 assists per game in 2013-14 and 4.7 in 14-15.
His friendship with Tony Parker and Boris Diaw — all three have played on the French national team together — would potentially help ease his transition into a new organization.
Noah seems like a puzzle piece that would fit snugly. Of course, this all depends on what happens with Tim Duncan, Boban Marjanovic and David West.
Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck expects the New York Knicks to make a strong pitch for the center.
LRT: If Noah’s leaving Bulls, expect Knicks to make a strong pitch. Phil Jackson and Noah have a rapport. And Noah has NY roots.
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 25, 2016
If Noah indeed is done with the Bulls, it will be because he has options. Is Noah worth the Spurs targeting him during free agency? Let us know in the comments below.