With the Chicago Bulls and longtime forward Joakim Noah having trouble reaching a deal, speculation about Noah’s future in his beloved Chicago rises. The Bulls aren’t afraid to make changes: they’ll fire an excellent, accomplished, demanding coach (Tom Thibodeau) and hire a new one (Fred Hoiberg) who can’t get the team to the playoffs just to prove it. But Noah is a special case. He’s a unique player whose skill set is hard for some to assess and whose special gifts are grit, determination, spirit and will.
It’s notable that when asked in April about Noah’s future with the Bulls, EVP John Paxson gave a long quote full of praise for Noah — a quote that completely ignored his basketball game, his skills on the court, and his contributions as a player. Instead Paxson talks about Noah as admirable citizen and likable man. That doesn’t bode well for Noah’s basketball future with the team:
“Anyone who has been around us, anybody who has spoken to [us] about Joakim, they know how we feel about him,” Paxson said. “He represents a lot of things that we believe in. To me, he’s one of the most genuine people I’ve ever been around in this business, as far as people go. So we have an affinity for Jo. But we’ve got to talk, we’ve got to see where it goes.”