According to the Chicago Sun-Times, due-to-be free agent center Joakim Noah has reportedly played his last game in a Chicago Bulls uniform. The Sun-Times reported on Wednesday that Noah has told multiple teammates that he is done with the organization once 2016 free agency begins this summer and that he “has no trust in the front office getting this in the right direction,’’ according to an unnamed Bulls player.
The Chicago Bulls’ 2015-2016 campaign was a season which saw Derrick Rose stay healthy for the first time in three years, as well as the emergence of shooting guard Jimmy Butler. However, despite Rose staying healthy and Butler becoming the focal point of the Bulls offensive production, Chicago failed to qualify for the 2016 postseason. Earlier in the season, Joakim Noah lost his starting job to Pau Gasol, who turned out to be one of the Bulls most productive assets in the offensive end of the floor. According to the Sun-Times, Noah losing his starting job to Gasol doesn’t have anything to do with his wanting out of Chicago, but rather, Noah wants out because of an ongoing rift and distrust between him, other players and the Bulls front office, specifically GM Gar Forman.
The Chicago Bulls are going to have their hands full this summer on the free agent front, and with Noah now set to leave town, their main priority has to be finding a way to re-sign Jimmy Butler. Granted, the Bulls main priority before Noah’s comments in the Sun-Times’ piece was finding a way to sign back Butler, but now that the Bulls have gotten word that Joakim Noah has zero interest in returning, their eyes are solely on getting Jimmy Butler to return to Chi-town and solidifying their core. Noah is 31 years old while Pau Gasol is 35. It would make little sense for the Bulls to pursue Joakim Noah at the age he is at when he doesn’t even want to wear a Bulls uniform in the first place. The Bulls just need to bite the bullet, allow Noah to walk and focus on trying to either extend Pau Gasol’s contract now or re-sign him at the end of the 2016-2017 season. If the Bulls can lock up Jimmy Butler long term and get a few more solid years out of Pau Gasol, they will, at least, have a core of players in Rose, Butler, and Gasol to rely on. However, with the way this franchise is operating right now, three solid players such as this may not be enough to return the Bulls to a winning way.