Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has played his last game for the team. What started as a heartwarming love affair between the Bulls and their hard working player has become another sad tale. Chicago is a city that is used to watching their beloved players take their talents elsewhere. Joakim Noah’s inevitable exodus from the Bulls will leave the city of Chicago void of yet another sports folk hero. Joakim Noah has told his teammates that he is done with the Bulls.
Noah becomes a free agent on July 1.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times was first to report the story about Joakim Noah informing his Bulls’ teammates that he will leave. The decision to venture out and join the free agency market is not a surprise, giving how the team has been managed over the past two calendar years.
Traces of trouble with the Bulls and Noah were starting to show during Tom Thibodeau’s last season as coach.
BREAKING: Joakim Noah not returning to Bulls because he has "no trust in the front office," according to Sun-Times. pic.twitter.com/iKWIKCIXWt— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) May 25, 2016
Rumors were swirling around two years ago that Thibodeau was not going to be holding on to the Bulls’ job for too much longer. That was the thought behind the Bulls’ bitter collapse to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the 2015 NBA playoffs. Players were performing as if Thibodeau was already fired. The Bulls defense, typically their calling card, was nonexistent. All of the fire and passion the Bulls fueled themselves with, gone. As expected, Tom Thibodeau was fired. To no one’s surprise, Fred Hoiberg was his replacement.
It was a miscalculation by the Bulls that the locker room needed a new voice. Joakim Noah, one of the most vocal leaders of the team became alienated, even put off by the changes.
According to the players who anonymously spoke to Joe Cowley, acknowledged that Joakim Noah, “has no trust in the front office.” How can Noah have faith in a Chicago Bulls’ front office who have proven time and time again they are incapable of constructing a perennial championship contender.
Bill Duffy, Joakim Noah's agent: "Joakim has great respect for the city, the fans and the organization."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) May 25, 2016
There are a contingent of fans who believe that injuries derailed any of the Bulls hopes of playing for an NBA title.
Injuries are commonplace in sports, but management must plan for that, and other things. It is their job to bring in players with a track record for staying healthy. It is also their job to add players of significance, which the Bulls have failed to do. Lastly, it is on management to part ways with players who have not lived up to the lofty standards that are set. The Chicago Bulls have done nothing.
Was it done out of reluctance or the fear of a player blossoming elsewhere?
the Bulls, hell and us fans, have to stop living in the 90s. I say new front office, new team. blow it all up.— shake arrieta (@curlyfro) May 25, 2016
Only they know the answer to that. What should be known is that not one player who left the Chicago Bulls have gone on to play in an all-star game in 10 seasons. Under the entire tenure of Bulls’ Vice President John Paxson, only Metta World Peace became an all-star after leaving the team. Not one player from the John Paxson regime have averaged more than 20 points after leaving. There is no proven justification for the Bulls’ reluctance.
For so long, the excuses have rolled off the tongues of the Bulls’ front office. And if Joe Cowley’s report is accurate, Joakim Noah is tired of the excuses. He wants to be able to trust management and win basketball games. Sadly, that will happen with a team not named the Chicago Bulls.
Joakim Noah will have a bevy of suitors. As long as he can agree to a short-term contract he will be fine.
One team to keep an eye on are the Minnesota Timberwolves, where former Bulls’ coach, Tom Thibodeau is now calling the shots. The website hngn.com is suggesting that Minnesota will be a suitor for Noah.
The impact Joakim Noah has had on this city goes way deeper then ????. IF the rumors are true I wish him well wherever he ends up. #Bulls— Jarrett Payton (@paytonsun) May 25, 2016
The Timberwolves have the cap space to sign Noah. They also have a youthful group of bigs who can benefit from his experience.
Another team to watch for is the New York Knicks.
Joakim Noah’s play with the Chicago Bulls, like most sports folk heroes, put butts in seats. The Knicks need every bit of help they can find in order to pack Madison Square Garden.
Good stuff from Cowley. Good to know Noah and myself have the same confidence in the Bulls front office. https://t.co/bA0vPXS5GR— Nick Shepkowski (@Shep670) May 25, 2016
The Jeff Hornacek hiring will help the Knicks’ guards, while a Joakim Noah signing would help the interior toughness and the crowd.
Other teams which will be interested in Joakim Noah are the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks.
It is a sad day in Chicago, as one of the most beloved players is all but gone. Say goodnight to the Joakim Noah era as it has come to an end with the Chicago Bulls. Barring a change of heart, the 31-year-old center has played his last game for the Bulls.
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]