Joakim Noah is making it well known that he’s no longer happy in Chicago.
It’s a story that stretches all the way back to training camp. Fred Hoiberg was hired to replace Tom Thibodeau signaling the team was going in a new direction — a fast pace, more offensive direction that didn’t play to Noah’s strengths.
The rumors became reality when Hoiberg moved Noah to the bench before the regular season began — something Joakim still isn’t over according to multiple recent reports. Noah is playing the fewest minutes since his rookie season. He has remained a good teammate, but for as long as the Bulls keep this style of play, Noah isn’t nearly as valuable as he was under coach Thibs.
The straw that broke the camels back may have already occured — and been the cause of these trade rumors surfacing. While Noah was out for nine games with a shoulder injury, the Bulls were able to go 7-2 and shoot up the standings in the Eastern Conference.
Frankly, Noah is no longer needed in Chicago and it’s showing. The Bulls will likely try and get something for him before the trade deadline, despite the fact that Noah’s value has never been lower.
Here are a few options.
The Celtics have to include a draft pick to make the trade work (let’s call it a lottery protected first-rounder), but their pockets are deeper than anyone else in that area. This really is a great trade for both teams as both players involved are currently unhappy with their roles. Lee would be a bench player for the Bulls, but even if he plays less than Noah had been, it’d be a more consistent role than he has in Boston. 15-20 minutes off the bench would make sense, and he’s a much better fit in Hoiberg’s offensive system. The Celtics, on the other hand, have developed a fantastic defense under Brad Stevens. Noah is the perfect piece to add as the man in the middle. Both players are in contract years, but should have a lot of interest in re-signing with their new teams. Everyone wins.
This is a very similar deal to the one above, but frankly the Celtics make for a much better fit for both sides. But let’s say that deal falls through. This is the next best thing. The Lakers would include a draft pick as well in order to upgrade Hibbert to Noah. They’re going full rebuild mode in LA, but Noah is a great player to have in the meantime to build up his value if for no other reason. The Bulls basically get a guy in Hibbert that will accept his bench role and just try his best to replace Noah. They’d likely let him walk after the season, but at least they have a pick to show for it.
Those first two trades are thinking inside the box. This one is what happens when you think outside the box. Dwight can be had for the right price … it hasn’t been a fairy tale for him in Houston thus far. The Rockets have also been looking for a stable starting PF. This trade brings them Noah to replace Howard, but also Gibson to start alongside him in the front court. With Howard beginning to break down, and the Rockets having a shaky season, they’d have to consider. The Bulls are just swinging for the fences here. Howard and Pau Gasol didn’t work very well with the Lakers, so it’s risky to give it another try. Bobby Portis is capable of stepping into the rotation full-time, so depth isn’t a concern. Could Pau and Dwight redeem themselves in the east?
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