NBA Rumors: Joakim Noah Leaving Bulls Over ‘Playing Time,’ Could Rejoin Tom Thibodeau In Minnesota

Ernie Howell - Author
By

Jun. 12 2016, Updated 6:22 p.m. ET

NBA rumors point to the Chicago Bulls big man Joakim Noah leaving this summer for a chance to rejoin his former coach, multiple media outlets have reported.

Fox Sports is suggesting the likely landing spot for Joakim Noah is the Minnesota Timberwolves, a scenario that would reunite the player with coach Tom Thibodeau. Rumors have suggested the two-time NBA All-Star has an “interest” in reuniting with Tom Thibodeau — Minnesota’s coach and president of basketball operations — because Joakim Noah enjoyed his best seasons under his watch.

Tom Thibodeau has both the authority and resources to make the move happen, and the one-time NBA Coach of the Year appears open to that possibility. A Sporting News report quoted Tom praising Joakim Noah for his leadership skills this off-season.

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“Besides offering tenacious defense and his gung-ho, team-first attitude, Noah fills the role of veteran leader. ‘I think when you see what happened in Chicago, the Bulls really missed Jo’s leadership this season, first and foremost,’ Thibodeau said, referring to the Bulls’ failure to make the playoffs, as Noah had his season end in mid-January due to a shoulder injury.”

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Joakim Noah has not been shy about expressing his frustration over what appears to be his final season with the Chicago Bulls. In a question and answer series with Sportando, the 31-year-old center labeled the 2015-2016 season as a “terrible” one after battling through injuries for most of it.

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“I was very disappointed, I played little minutes and then I got injured and the team didn’t reach the expectations. Very bad season but you need to learn from these things to become better.”

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Indeed, this season was a rough one for Joakim. In 29 games this season, Joakim Noah came off the bench for 27 of them, averaging only 4.3 points in the worst season of his pro career. When the reporter asked him to explain the differences in playing for Tom Thibodeau and first-year coach Fred Hoiberg, Joakim Noah pointed to limited minutes as being the biggest difference.

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“Playing time, man. I haven’t played many minutes this season and that was a major change for me. It was difficult, there was a change of culture in the team and many things changed. Then I got hurt and the season was over for me. I was very disappointed, man. Definitely a bad season but you know, you need to go through adversity to become a better player.”

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Multiple media reports also showed a growing rift between Joakim Noah and the Chicago Bulls’ administration. The Sporting New first reported on rumors that Joakim Noah — considered one of the most charitable players in the NBA by the source — turned down a request by the front office to be a part of team charity because of his disdain for the organization.

The article also quoted a Chicago Sun Times piece, reporting on rumors that Joakim Noah has already made his free agency intentions known to his teammates. “An anonymous player told the Times that Noah, an upcoming free agent, told everyone he won’t be returning to the franchise because he can’t put up with his treatment any longer,” according to the Sporting News article.

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The Chicago Bulls are the only NBA franchise that Joakim Noah has played for, joining the squad after winning back-to-back national championships with the Florida Gators. The first round pick in the 2007 NBA Draft had his best season in 2014, earning All-NBA first team honors while securing the Defensive Player of the Year award.

What do you think about NBA rumors suggesting Joakim Noah will be leaving the Chicago Bulls this summer? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

[Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]

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