Noah Hopes to Return to the Bulls
When Joakim Noah suffered a season-ending shoulder dislocation on Jan. 14 against the Dallas Mavericks and underwent surgery last week, some pundits said that he may have played his final game with the Chicago Bulls. After all, Noah will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and it’s no secret that his production has declined in recent years and that Chicago has a logjam in their frontcourt.
However, while Noah is primarily focusing on recovering from his surgery, he did tell reporters that he hopes to be back with the Bulls next season.
“I hope so,” Noah said, according to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune. “Right now, I’m not trying to focus on the future. I just had season-ending surgery last week but this is all I know. I’m looking forward to see what the guys are doing and just right now it’s all about taking a step back and just focusing on getting healthy and then we’ll go from there.
“This is all I know. I’ve been here nine years.”
Noah admitted that it’s unfortunate to have a season-ending injury like this during a contract-year, when a player is trying to prove their value and play for a new contract. However, he refused to feel bad for himself and is determined to return to 100 percent as soon as possible.
“It’s not easy, but I know there are people out there it’s a lot harder for [so] I’m not complaining,” Noah said. “It’s all about how you bounce back. I just want to prove that I have a lot more basketball in me.
“It’s very humbling to go through injuries. As an athlete, the last thing you want to prepare yourself for a long season and then get hurt. But it’s part of it. It’s tough, but I’ll bounce back.”
For now, Noah is just trying to be an off-court leader for Chicago and rehab his shoulder.
“I’ve been injured before – maybe not in this position and situation, but I’m looking forward to being around the guys,” Noah said. “I just have to take it week by week and focus on my progress. The guys are going to be gone for a couple of weeks. I’m going to work on getting my shoulder stronger and when I can … I want to be out here.
“It’s getting better every day. It’s tough being out here just watching everybody compete. I just want to be out there playing.”
Last year, as a starter, Noah averaged 7.2 points on a career-low 44.5 percent from the field along with 9.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.1 blocks.
It was the first sign of a drop off we had seen from Noah, who just one season earlier had won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award and finished fourth in Most Valuable Player voting.
This season, Noah’s production dropped even more and new head coach Fred Hoiberg decided to bring him off of the bench.
In his 29 games before the shoulder injury, Noah averaged a career-low 4.3 points on a career-low 38.3 shooting from the field. He also added 8.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and one block per game.
Noah will turn 31 years old next month and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of interest he attracts as an unrestricted free agent this summer. With the salary cap increasing significantly, he should get a nice pay day, but his lack of production over the last two seasons, his injury history and his age as well as the miles on his body may limit his earning potential a bit.
Durant Raves About New York Ahead of Free Agency
Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant will obviously be an unrestricted free agent this summer, which means everyone is putting his quotes under the microscope and trying to guess where he’ll be playing next year.
During a recent trip to New York, Durant certainly gave Knicks fans optimism with some of his comments.
“They link everybody with New York City,’’ Durant said, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “It’s one of the greatest cities in the world. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a great city. Great place to visit, great place to live, I’m sure. But they link everybody, not just me.
“I spent some nice time up here playing basketball in New York City. Some of the most memorable times in my life was coming up here, playing outside, just getting the pure love of the game up here. I remember that, always going to remember that the rest of my life and tell my kids about that when I get older. I come from Maryland. We know how big basketball is here.
“Of course I enjoy playing here and the Garden. Every movie you watch, you had a scene playing basketball in the Garden. Everything reverts back to being in the Garden, whether [it’s] musicians, basketball players. To play here is just a blessing.’’
He also praised Coach Derek Fisher, whom he played alongside in Oklahoma City.
“I know Fisher is a great basketball mind, great motivator and he’d make a great basketball coach no matter what the record is,’’ Durant said. “I was happy to see him get his first job so early after retirement. Just to lead those guys, everybody respects him here. You want the players’ respect from everybody. He gets that from a lot of people.
“They’re a good basketball team. They got from top to bottom good players. They did a good job of filling the roster with [Kristaps] Porzingis, a great add, Robin Lopez, [Arron] Afflalo, Derrick Williams. They’re playing well right now and you can credit Fish for a lot of that.’’
While he did praise New York and the Knicks quite a bit, he did pump the brakes and say that he’s not ready to talk about free agency yet.
“We’ll worry about that stuff when I get there,” Durant said. “I know that’s what people want to hear — the information [on my future]. I’ll tell you everything you need to know when that time comes.
“The season moves along so quickly. Every chance I get alone, I’m either on the plane [or] in the city thinking about the game the next day. I can’t totally just say I haven’t totally thought about it at all, but I haven’t sat down and put a lot of time into what I’m looking for. I’ve been focusing on the season and teammates and how I can be better as a player and leader. Everything else comes after that and the season.’’
Remaining with the Thunder is certainly a strong possibility, but if he decides to leave, he has been linked to the Knicks and Washington Wizards (his hometown team) among others.
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