The Chicago Bulls and Center Joakim Noah have officially agreed to a five year, $60 million contract extension this past Sunday. With this deal, the Bulls have proved their commitment to keeping Noah on the team and have basically guaranteed his lack of involvement in any more trade speculation.
There had been much talk that the Denver Nuggets would negotiate a trade involving Carmelo Anthony if the Bulls star center was involved. The Bulls were adamant that they had no intention of trading their center, whom they have high hopes for this season.
But why would the Bulls choose a young, unproven player over an established scorer who has the potential to be a top 5 player in the league?
1. Joakim Noah is a leader. You saw it in college when he won two NCAA National Championships in a row, so it shouldn't be a big surprise that he is a leader on this Bulls team as well. His teammates respect his vocal attitude as seen in his comments last year during the playoffs about the Cavaliers. He stirs the pot, but doesn't push it. The only reason is to get his teammates fired up.
2. Noah showed great improvement last year. He averaged a double-double in points and rebounds and almost 2 blocks per game. The Bulls are looking for this improvement to continue and see Noah as a potential all-star for the upcoming season. Also with Carlos Boozer out due to injury for the first two months of the season, Chicago is going to be looking to Noah to make up for their losses. The Bulls can't afford to lose anymore of their big men.
3. Rather than a Rose-Anthony-Boozer big 3, the Bulls believe they already have a developing one in Rose, Boozer and Noah. They want to build around those three players. If they made a trade they would be giving up valuable pieces that they already have in place. It may mean that they won't be able to contend with the Heat, Celtics or Magic right away, but they would take a step back in building that competitive team by trading away their assets to get Carmelo Anthony. Now they keep vital bench players like Taj Gibson and James Johnson and valuable draft picks that will further build this team.
4. They aren't very far away from being a power in the East. You can argue that with Carmelo they would be better prepared to go up against the likes of the Heat, but the Eastern Conference teams have many All-Star big men to contend with. The likes of Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and even Shaquille O'Neil are not easy to defend. By keeping Noah they have that defender. Plus Carmelo is not known for his defense. He is strictly a scorer. They are a slasher away from being a serious contender in the East. If they could somehow relieve themselves of Luol Deng's contract they could bring in the SG or SF that they need.
Joakim Noah may appear to be an easy player to part with in order to obtain Carmelo Anthony, but on the inside it could be detrimental to team chemistry and the future plans of the Chicago Bulls. It's good to see that the Bulls recognize this and have rewarded Noah for his hard work. This loyalty can seriously pay off in motivating a team that's looking to contend in the playoffs.