Can the Bulls hang with the Heat?

It’s hard to imagine how the Chicago Bulls can give the Miami Heat a series, but it all starts with Joakim Noah, who frankly offers quite a contrast to Derrick Rose. Noah says the Heat series will be a “war” so don’t expect Chicago to back down. They’re going to need some of the waking wounded to return as we can’t expect Rose to suit up.

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Granger: Noah “pulled a cowardly move.”

Danny Granger had some choice words for Joakim Noah after the Pacers were eliminated in Game 5, per ESPN.

“He pulled a cowardly move,” Granger said. “He cheap-shotted a couple of my teammates, and one gets thrown out …

“The refs never catch what he did … it’s cowardly. And I’m going to say something about it. I wanted to say something about it all the way to the game was over. I just don’t think the game should be played that way. You can play hard and fight and battle, but when you start cheap-shotting people it gets out of hand.”

For his part, Noah didn’t escalate the situation any further:

“I played dirty? OK. I’m just trying to win basketball games, man,” Noah said. “It’s the name of the game.

“I’m just out there trying to do what I gotta do. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to their team. They play hard as hell. They were competitive. I don’t have anything bad to say about them. Everybody saw what happened out there. Now you want to call me a dirty player? I don’t think I’ve ever been a dirty player. It is what it is. It’s OK.”

Josh McRoberts didn’t seem to take issue with Noah’s play.

“I’m not mad about it,” McRoberts said. “He got a good hit on me. They caught me trying to hit him back.

“It’s part of the game. I’m not going to say it’s dirty. That’s Game 5 of a playoff series. You can’t say it’s dirty, it’s part of basketball.”

Here’s the play in question. You’ll see at the 0:25 mark that Noah was standing still underneath the basket with his elbow raised and McRoberts initiated the contact. Noah does nothing wrong.

Noah is not a popular player outside of Chicago, but I like his game. He plays with great energy and has a terrific feel for the game, especially for a big man. He is the heart and soul of this Bulls team.

Joakim Noah agrees to extension

Joakim Noah wasn’t happy with the Bulls’ $55 million offer, but Chicago upped the ante and it seems the two parties have agreed to an extension.

The deal is worth $60 million plus additional bonuses, Dan Fegan, one of Noah’s agents, told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher.

I compared Noah to Andrew Bogut in a previous post, and this contract sound a lot like the one Bogut signed two years ago. Bogut’s deal raised a few eyebrows then, but he has since developed one of the best two-way centers in the league, earning All-NBA 3rd Team honors last season in his best year as a pro.

Between this contract and their refusal to include him in a deal for Carmelo Anthony, the Bulls obviously value what Noah brings to the table. According to 82 Games, his net points (per 100 possessions) was +0.9 last season, while Bogut’s was +8.0. In three head-to-head matchups last year, Bogut averaged 22/14 on 52% shooting, while Noah posted 10/16 on 42% shooting.

I think $12 M+ per season for a defensive/rebounding specialist is steep, but maybe Noah will develop offensively in the same way Bogut did. The difference is that Bogut started with a pretty good post game and developed from there, while Noah’s current post moves are rudimentary at best.

Who does Joakim Noah think he is?

Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD says that the Bulls offered Noah more than $11 million per year, and he isn’t happy with the offer.

The contract extension the Chicago Bulls offered Joakim Noah several weeks ago was actually a five-year, $57 million deal. Noah isn’t happy.

Wow, I think that’s more than fair for a offensively-challenged center who averaged 10.7 points and 11.0 rebounds per game last season. Sure, he’s great defensively and brings a lot of energy, but that’s why the Bulls’ offer is fair. When you start getting into the $12-$14 M per season range, you have to be a complete player. And as good as Noah is, he isn’t a guy that the Bulls can feed in the post and expect him to score.

Two summers ago, Andrew Bogut signed a five-year deal worth $60 million coming off of a season where he averaged 14/10. This season, he was named to the All-NBA 3rd Team after turning into one of the league’s best defensive centers and one of its few go-to post players. Would you rather have Bogut at $12 million per season or Noah at $11.4 million? Bulls fans might say Noah, but after the season Bogut just turned in, I think most people around the NBA would rather have Bogut (16/10, 2.5 blocks in 2009-10.)

With a new collective bargaining agreement looming, Noah should lock in his extension now. There’s just too much risk involved with all the uncertainty of next summer.

Bulls discussing Noah as part of Carmelo deal?

Earlier today, I discussed the report that the Chicago Bulls were one of two teams that Carmelo Anthony would like to be traded to before the season starts. Now it appears that the Bulls are thinking about using Joakim Noah as a centerpiece in an offer for the Denver swingman, per ESPN Chicago.

The Chicago Bulls are interested in trading for the Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony and are discussing internally including Joakim Noah as part of the deal, according to a league source.

According to the source, the Nuggets are hesitant to take back Luol Deng as part of a deal with the Bulls because Denver is leery of taking on long-term contracts with the collective bargaining agreement set to expire on June 30, 2011. Deng is two years into a six-year, $71 million contract.

Now we’re talking.

Noah isn’t a superstar or even a star, but he’s a quality center who brings defense, rebounding and energy to the Bulls lineup night in and night out. I would think that the Nuggets would require that he be included in any deal for Melo. If they can come away with Noah, Taj Gibson and a first round draft pick or two, that would be a solid start to their rebuilding effort that will no doubt begin once Anthony departs.

There’s just one sticking point — without Deng’s bloated salary, the numbers don’t match, so the Bulls would have to get a third team involved to take on Deng’s contract. That, or the Nuggets would have to take Deng as part of the deal.

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