The talking heads are wondering whether Chicago should consider moving Joakim Noah to rebuild the team in light of the playoff failures of the past two seasons.
Typically, my answer is a resounding NO!
Noah is the only player on the Bulls roster other than Derrick Rose that can get the team excited and whose play can spark a big run. The intangibles he brings to the table are amazing. Intangibles such as his "heart, hustle and muscle" as Chicago's favorite broadcaster, Stacy King, often states. Noah is Robin to Rose's Batman. He is the second most important member of the team.
However, that being said, Noah is not untouchable like Rose. For the right deal and the right price, his services can be obtained.
ESPN Insider writer Bradford Doolittle floats the idea of the Bulls trading Noah and the number 29 pick in the 2012 draft to Sacramento Kings for Tyreke Evans and the number five pick. He suggests that Noah's motor and defensive ability would pair perfectly with DeMarcus Cousins and that Evans could play the point for Chicago until Rose returns and then eventually slide to the shooting guard spot beside Rose. The Bulls would then use the number five pick in the 2012 draft on Connecticut's Andre Drummond to replace Noah.
I like Mr. Doolittle's idea, but I do not believe this deal would be sweet enough for Chicago to move Noah. I do, however, like the concept of the Kings as a trade partner, but there needs to be a third team involved for the Bulls front office to really consider a swap of the third best center in the NBA.
Gain: Tyreke Evans (G) and number five pick in the 2012 draft from the Sacramento Kings and Jarrett Jack (PG) from the New Orleans Hornets.
Lose: Joakim Noah (C).
Why Make Trade: Chicago gets to keep its number 29 pick in the 2012 draft (and should pick Vanderbilt's sweet shooting guard John Jenkins), it can draft Connecticut's Andre Drummond (C) to replace Noah with the number five pick in the 2012 draft, it acquires Tyreke Evans to help fill the void while Rose is out and then play alongside Rose as the shooting guard of the future when he returns. Noah's departure also means the Bulls have money to resign Omer Asik to pair with Drummond as a very strong 1-2 combination at the center position.
This trade also sets the Bulls up with the chance for a total rebuild around a very strong core of players following the 2012-13 season. After 2012-13 finishes, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson will all be free agents, Taj Gibson and Tyreke Evans will be restricted free agents and the team will have an option on Richard Hamilton. Loul Deng will be entering the last year of his contract and hopefully Nikola Mirotic will be ready to come to the U.S. Most importantly, Chicago can use its amnesty cut on Carlos Boozer.
2012 Starting Lineup: C.J. Watson (PG - Bulls must pick up his 2012-13 team option), Tyreke Evans (SG), Loul Deng (SF), Carlos Boozer (PF) and Andre Drummond (C).
2012 Bench: Derrick Rose (PG), Richard Hamilton (SG), Ronnie Brewer (SG), Jarrett Jack (PG), Taj Gibson (PF), Kyle Korver (SF), Jimmy Butler (G) and John Jenkins (SG).
Will look to Sign: Omer Asik (C - resign) and veteran C.
Under Contract for 2013-14 Season: Derrick Rose (PG), Loul Deng (SF - final year), Andre Drummond (C), Carlos Boozer (PF), John Jenkins (SG) and Jimmy Butler (SF).
Hopefully, Omer Asik is resigned this offseason and will be locked into a long term deal. Then the Bulls hopefully amnesty Carlos Boozer before the 2013-14 season and use the additional cap space to resign Taj Gibson and Tyreke Evans to long term contracts.
Projected 2013 Starting Lineup: Derrick Rose (PG), Tyreke Evans (SG), Loul Deng (SF), Taj Gibson (PF) and Andre Drummond (C).
Projected 2013 Bench: Omer Asik (C), Jimmy Butler (SF), John Jenkins (SG), Nikola Mirotic (SF) and Chicago will have to draft or sign a backup PG and backup PF (can use the Charlotte future first round draft pick).
New Orleans Hornets:
Gain: Joakim Noah (C) from the Chicago Bulls and John Salmons (SG) from the Sacramento Kings.
Lose: Emeka Okafor (C), Trevor Ariza (SF), Jarrett Jack (PG) and number ten pick in 2012 draft.
Why Make Trade: Eric Gordon, period. After trading for Noah and drafting Kentucky's Anthony Davis (PF) with the number one overall pick in the 2012 draft, New Orleans will have acquired the pieces necessary to convince Eric Gordon (SG) to resign to a long term deal with the Hornets. A core trio of Gordon, Davis and Noah would immediately solidify the foundation for a championship contending team for years to come.
Although New Orleans would really like to avoid taking on the bad contract of Salmons to get the deal done, it would be worth every penny if his contract is why Hornet's management is able to build a big three of Gordon, Davis and Noah (plus his acquisition is not a total loss as he would provide scoring off the bench as the sixth man behind Gordon).
2012 Starting Lineup: Greivis Vasquez (PG), Eric Gordon (SG), Al-Farouq Aminu (SF), Anthony Davis (PF) and Joakim Noah (C).
Bench: John Salmons, (SG/SF), Xavier Henry (SG), Jason Smith (PF) and Gustavo Ayon (PF).
Will look to Sign: Marco Belinelli (SG - resign if price is right), veteran C and veteran PG to be the starter (like Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams, Jameer Nelson, Steven Nash, Kirk Hinrich, Jeremy Lin or Raymond Felton).
Gain: Emeka Okafor (C), Trevor Ariza (SF) and the number ten pick in the 2012 draft from the New Orleans Hornets.
Lose: Tyreke Evans (G), John Salmons (SG/SF) and number five pick in 2012 draft.
Why Make Trade: At first glance, it seems like trading away the number five pick in the 2012 draft and former number four pick Evans is a lot to give up for Okafor and Ariza, but it really is not. Okafor can be the defensive force and stabilizing veteran presence along side Cousins that Sacramento needs to fortify their front line. Losing the promising Evans is less than optimal, however, moving Evans and Salmons will open up more playing time for Marcus Thornton to develop into the NBA All Star the team hopes he can become.
Additionally, one cannot undersell the value of shedding Salmon's bad contract to the rebuilding ability of Kings management. Trevor Ariza does not have a great contract himself, but it is one year shorter and a couple million dollars per year less than Salmons deal. Ariza, unlike Salmons, is also the kind of complementary player and defensive stopper that the Kings need alongside Thornton and Cousins offensive abilities.
Through making this trade, the Kings would not be giving up the number five pick for nothing either. They would only be moving back five spots to number ten where they could draft their center of the future to eventually replace Okafor with either North Carolina's Tyler Zeller (C) or Illinois' Meyers Leonard (C) or they could go in a completely different direction and draft a small forward of the future with a player like St. John's Moe Harkless (SF).
2012 Starting Lineup: Isaiah Thomas (PG), Marcus Thornton (SG), Trevor Ariza (SF), DeMarcus Cousins (PF) and Emeka Okafor (C).
Bench: Francisco Garcia (SG), Chuck Hayes (C), Jimmer Fredett (PG), Tyler Honeycutt (F), Travis Outlaw (SF) and Moe Harkless (SF).
Will look to Sign: Veteran PG to be the starter (like Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams, Jameer Nelson, Steven Nash, Kirk Hinrich, Jeremy Lin and Raymond Felton) and veteran PF.