Chicago Bulls Should Re-Sign Joakim Noah Only If Extremely Team-Friendly Contract is Accepted

By Brian Neal on Jan 28, 2016 05:38 PM EST

Joakim Noah was once the leader of the Chicago Bulls' franchise, but injuries have taken a toll on the player who was once a top-five center in the NBA. Now that he's out for the year with a separated shoulder and his free agency looming at the conclusion of season, what do the Bulls do? Honestly, the only way they should bring him back at this point is if an extremely team-friendly contract is accepted.

Simply put, Noah isn't worth $13 million like he's making this year.

It's just smart business. Noah was ineffective pretty much all of last year, and was absolutely brutal in the playoffs. This season, after a slow start, he started to pick up the pace and put in some solid performances. But the shoulder injuries abruptly put that improvement to an end, and now both parties are in a tough spot.

Noah has said that he wants to continue his career as a Bull, but would he be willing to sign a "prove it" type of deal? A short contract --worth one or two seasons with a potential opt-out after the first year, somewhere in the range of $5-8 million -- would be a perfect offer for both the Bulls and Noah.

This is actually a very similar case to that of Derrick Rose. The one-time MVP has suffered the well-documented injuries that everyone knows about, and while he is still an effective player, he hasn't been able to put up the big numbers with the consistency that he once did. When his contract comes to an end after the 2016-17 season, he too should only be brought back on a team-friendlier deal that reduces his salary significantly (assuming he doesn't return to elite status in the next season and a half) -- somewhere around $12-15 million sounds about right.

Ultimately, there still is a role for Noah on this team, especially if Pau Gasol doesn't come back this offseason.

The Bulls would have Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis (if no trades go down before the deadline) on the roster at the power forward and center spots if that were the case, and Noah would be gladly accepted at that point.

It's also important to consider the potential blessing in disguise of this whole situation.

Yes, it's unfortunate how the past season-plus has gone for Noah. The knee surgery two summers ago made the 2014-15 season a disaster for him, and this year hasn't held too much fortune either. But taking off the rest of the year with this shoulder injury will give him a full eight or nine months to prepare and get his body ready for the 2016-17 campaign. Who knows how much good that could do? If he gets his body right and feels confident, he could surely bounce back and have a fantastic season next year.

But the Bulls need to be smart about this either way. Thus, if they can get him back on a team-friendly offer, I say go for it. There's nothing to lose at that point, and he deserves the second chance after everything he's done for the team and city over the years.

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TagsChicago Bulls, Joakim Noah, NBA

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