Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah is now an unrestricted free agent with his five-year contract with the team expiring at the end of this season and rumors are swirling that he is set for a reunion with former coach Tom Thibodeau over at the Minnesota Timberwolves next season.
Reports have swollen that Thibodeau has an interest in signing Noah, who has a base salary of $13.4 million this season, who was a part of his defense plays when he was still coaching the Bulls back from 2010 to 2015. It was under Thibodeau when Noah was named as the NBA’s 2014 Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the 2013 and 2013 NBA All-Star team.
It was also under Thibodeau that Noah and the Bulls managed to barge their way into five consecutive playoffs appearance. Thibodeau even stated that Noah’ leadership inside the court was complete missed as the team also missed a spot in this year’s playoff due to his shoulder injury. The 58-year old mentor added that he hopes that Noah would be healthy as he would be badly needed to boost the Timberwolves’ core in both ends of the floor.
“I think when you see what happened in Chicago, the Bulls really missed Jo’s leadership this season, first and foremost,” Thibodeau said.
Mitch Lawrence of Sportingnews.com writes that Thibodeau would want a “reunion” of a sort with Noah rather than having Kevin Garnett, who is in has one year remaining on his contract and is still uncertain if he would return next season.
“Kevin Garnett, who helped Karl Anthony-Towns last season, has one season left on his contract. But there is uncertainty as to whether he’ll return. He has not played significant minutes in several seasons and that is considered a minus with Thibodeau, who wants his leaders to give the team major minutes and not just sit on the bench. At this stage, Noah is a better fit than Garnett,” Lawrence wrote.
Despite his high energy type of play both in and out of the court, Noah’s health will be put in question as the six-foot-eleven re-injured his left shoulder against the Dallas Mavericks. He was subsequently ruled out for four to six months after it was determined that he required surgery to stabilize his left shoulder.
However, that will not be the gauge for Thibodeau, who had Noah’s numbers increased during their tandem back in Chicago, Noah would average closely to 12 points per game with 12 rebounds two blocks and 5.5 assists. These numbers decreased when Noah was playing for Fred Hoiberg wherein he averages 4.3 points with 8.8 rebounds, one block and 3.8 assists per game.
It is said that the Timberwolves would definitely give Noah a run as other teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks have also signified their intention to bid for Noah’s services. But teams will have until July 1 to formally start their bidding wars and with the looks of it the Timberwolves have already the edge in Noah or is it not?
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