Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has been at the forefront of trade rumors in recent weeks, and it has become apparent that the Bulls may end up getting nothing for the two-time All Star. After suffering a dislocated left shoulder in a game this past Friday against the Dallas Mavericks, Noah is set to have surgery, which is expected to sideline him for 4-6 months. With the Bulls already looking to move on from Noah prior to the injury, this all but seals his fate in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.
With constant injuries to Derrick Rose over the past few years, Noah has been a symbol of stability for the Chicago Bulls. While he has never been a huge scorer, his reliable and elite defense, as well as his leadership, has led the Bulls to a lot of victories. And even though he never led the Bulls to a championship, he always gave them a shot to compete in the playoffs.
While his numbers have declined over the past few seasons, Noah may just need a change of scenery. His 4.3 points per game for the 2016-2017 season are the lowest of his career. While his 8.8 rebounds per game are still solid, this is his lowest average since the 2008-2009 season.
By the time the 2016-2017 season comes around, Noah will be 31-years-old. While this is not exactly young for a player who relies on athleticism, he is a smart player who can make adjustments to his game. Before the injury, the Bulls were pushing hard to trade Noah, according to Sports Illustrated. While they were in discussions with a few teams, nothing was imminent.
At this point, a trade is impossible, and the Bulls are not going to get anything in return for the impending free agent. Noah still believes that he should receive a significant number of minutes, and the Bulls were not giving him the playing time that he desired. Since he clearly does not want to become the role player that the Bulls want him to be, it is unlikely that he considers re-signing with them.
After the injury, Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler spoke to reporters about what Noah means to the team.
“It’s tough to lose a guy like Jo. He does so much for us. Forget basketball. You hate to see that happen to a good person. He’s down, as he should be. He wants to play for this team.”
Derrick Rose, who has had his own fair share of injuries over the years, also spoke about his longtime teammate and how it is going to impact the team.
“The guys who come in have to make sure they’re ready. We have to find a way to grind games out. It hurts knowing how hard he works, how hard he wants to be on the court, how much he means to the team. It’s devastating.”
With a record of 23-16, the Chicago Bulls are currently the 3rd seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Even with Rose struggling, the Bulls still find themselves in a position to make a playoff run. While Noah’s playing time had been cut this year, they are going to miss his veteran leadership in the playoffs.
While most analysts are already assuming that Joakim Noah is done with the Chicago Bulls, a few believe he could be back next year. According to Sam Smith of NBA.com, there is a chance that Noah and the Bulls could figure out a short-term contract that is beneficial for both sides. While Noah will not be back this year, his leadership could still provide value for next year.
In order for a short-term extension to come to fruition, Noah is likely going to have to agree to play fewer minutes. While that is not something that he was interested in before the injury, he may realize that he is not the same player that he once was. It is all going to depend on how much other teams want to offer him. If he receives a lot of offers, he will most likely be gone. If only a few teams attempt to lowball him, a short-term deal with the Bulls might make sense.
Until Joakim Noah signs with another team, rumors will likely to continue to come out through the summer regarding his future with the Chicago Bulls. If Noah is willing to take on a reduced role in the future, there is a real chance that he is back in Chicago. If he still views himself as a starter, there is little chance that he is back with the Bulls.
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