Noah and Boozer
The Chicago Bulls are nearly a quarter of the way through their season but their frontcourt appears to be anything but well oiled. If Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer were on different pages last season, they appear to be in two completely different books now. Noah's numbers are down across the board and Boozer's offensive numbers are down which spells out trouble for the Bulls who are looking for offensive support for Derrick Rose.
To their credit, Bulls leadership has been far less critical of their frontcourt than fans have. While Bulls fans are calling for drastic reactions to their tepid start, Tom Thibodeau and the management have supported Noah and Boozer and say that it is only a matter of time before both player's games improve. There are a myriad of opinions as to how to solve the Bulls' problems in the frontcourt, so let's look five of them!
Gibson and Noah Dynamic Duo
Throughout last season and in this early season, fans have been clamoring for Taj Gibson's insertion into the starting lineup. Last season, while Carlos Boozer was out with his early season injury, Gibson stepped in and played well in his absence and continued to play well as his backup as the season progressed. Gibson plays with a lot of heart and could be a key player for the Chicago Bulls if given starter minutes.
Joakim Noah and Gibson have played well on the court together in the past and it stands to reason that their chemistry could create a frontcourt that leads the league in offensive rebounding, second chance points, and blocks.
By pairing Noah with Gibson instead of Boozer, the Bulls would be putting Noah back into a scenario he is more familiar with as he has clearly struggled to find his rhythm with a low post scorer like Boozer.
Gibson is as much of a workhorse as Noah and could inspire Noah to play with the passion he seems to be lacking this season.
Moving Boozer to the bench would provide the second unit with another offensive threat which they seem to lack at times.
Replacing Boozer with Gibson takes away one of Derrick Rose's offensive tools and could lead to a stagnant offense at times.
Sending a player who makes $13,500,000 this season to the bench could lead to a lot of chemistry issues.
Moving Boozer to the bench could devalue him in the event the Bulls would look to trade him.
Boozer and Asik, Dominance on Both Ends of the Court
Omer Asik is quite possibly the best defender the Chicago Bulls have. A true 7'0", Asik can guard any center in the league and is defensively savvy enough to even switch out on small forwards like he has done with Lebron James. With Joakim Noah struggling this year, in both production and emotion, moving him to the bench in exchange for Asik could be the answer.
Asik is a defensive threat. Carlos Boozer is offensively dominant. Putting these two men on court together could make the Bulls' starting unit more consistent.
Noah has looked gassed early this season which is a major problem as he is supposed to be the emotional leader of this team. Sending him to the bench and reducing his minutes may give him the rest he needs to get his swagger back.
Asik is still learning who he is going to be in the league and he may be more willing to adapt than Noah is. Being flexible would allow him to adjust his game to compliment Boozer and lead to a cohesive frontcourt for the Bulls starting unit.
Both Boozer and Asik are not necessarily known for hustling and this could lead to a decrease in fast break points and could conversely lead to more opponent's fast break points.
Sending Noah to the bench could negatively effect him mentally and would certainly lead to a decrease in value if the Bulls looked to trade him.
Asik and Boozer have not spent a lot of time together on the floor and this lack of chemistry could lead to poor results.
Derrick Rose and Noah are close friends, moving Noah to the bench could effect how Rose plays.
Bulls are One Big Family
Every season at least one Chicago Bulls player is forced to endure through trade rumors and fans calling for their departure from the windy city. Throughout the 2008-2009 season it was Kirk Hinrich, in 2009-2010 it was Tyrus Thomas, last season it was Carlos Boozer, and this year it is a combination of Boozer and Joakim Noah. Bulls management have been very consistent in not allowing popular opinion to shape their decisions, but that doesn't mean trading Noah or Boozer is completely out of the question this season.
The Bulls, despite having added Rip Hamilton, are still needing a consistent second scorer to play beside Derrick Rose. Trading one of their big men provides them with the best opportunity to get that second option.
A trade would send a clear message to this team—fail to perform and you are gone.
If Boozer and Noah continue to decline, their value will never be greater than it is right now.
The Bulls currently have the best overall frontcourt in the league when you take into account both starters and bench players. Trading Noah and/or Boozer would hurt the frontcourt as it would be extremely difficult to get a player in a trade or a free agent that could fill the place of whichever big man they traded.
Trading Boozer or Noah would hurt the chemistry of the team. Boozer obviously has close ties to Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer having played on two teams with them. Noah is Rose's favorite teammate and losing him could cause Rose's game to decline.
Boozer and Noah may just be going through rough patches in their careers and may rebound to a much higher level in the year to come and trading them now could be a huge mistake similar to our trading of Tyson Chandler, Elton Brand, Thabo Sefolosha and Jamal Crawford.
Allan Houston - Mr. Amnesty
Written into the new collective bargaining agreement is an amnesty clause, the option for teams to cut any player signed prior to 2011-2012 and not have their salary count towards the team's salary cap. Several teams have exercised this option already but the Chicago Bulls have declined to use their's up to this point. Many fans have expressed the idea that the Bulls should let Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer play out the season and if one of them cannot fix their game, they should be amnestied.
This option should motivate both Boozer and Noah as neither would have to be cut if their games improved but could remove enough from the salary cap to lock up either Taj Gibson or Omer Asik if Boozer or Noah fails to improve.
The amnesty does not have to be used at the end of the summer, the Bulls could certainly wait and see if a full preseason and training camp would help Boozer and Noah to mesh.
Just like the threat of layoffs and job cuts looms over companies that are struggling financially, the amnesty will loom over this team if any of the management ever makes the mistake of mentioning the potential of Boozer or Noah being cut to the press.
Using the amnesty to remove Boozer or Noah would be like removing a limb with a sharp object—one moment it is there and the next it is not. Removing a player with the amnesty clause is a risky move as it would effect the team chemistry and could leave other players slightly put off that their friend and teammate was just let go. The Bulls would be wise to approach Derrick Rose on the matter before making any decisions as losing a friend could strongly impact his future with the Bulls.
One season does not make a career and removing one of these guys any time soon could be a mistake if their career bounces back.
Dynasties Take Time
If the Chicago Bulls organization learned one important lesson from the Michael Jordan era, they would know that great things come to those who wait. Jordan earned numerous awards and accolades during his first six seasons in the league but an NBA championship wasn't a part of his success. It wasn't until Jordan's seventh year in Chicago, Scottie Pippen's fourth year, that they were able to lead the Bulls to their first championship in franchise history. So, what is stopping this Bulls team from achieving the same success with time?
Chemistry may be the most important aspect to the Bulls with regards to winning a championship. The Bulls are not able to match the Miami Heat for pure talent so they need to make up for that with chemistry which is something that comes with time.
The Bulls have possibly the deepest team in the NBA and they can afford to give Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah some time to recover to their old form because Taj Gibson and Omer Asik can step in for them.
Patience doesn't contain the instant gratification a trade does. Anyone who is discontent with the current roster may grow frustrated with the slow approach.
The superstars of the NBA have a history of being discontent with falling short year after year, Rose has expressed nothing but loyalty to the Bulls but if they fail to surround him with the necessary pieces and the Bulls fail to win a championship soon, he may grow discontent himself.
Noah and Boozer may continue to decline which will mess with team chemistry, devalue the players for trade options, and jeopardize the Bulls title opportunity.