The Wizards are expected to make a major push to sign Joakim Noah in free agency next month, sources tell Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News. Washington’s interest in Noah was reported earlier this week.
In addition to the Wizards, at least three other teams – the Knicks, Timberwolves, and Bucks – are prepared to make offers to Noah, who is coming off an injury-shortened season, having undergone shoulder surgery earlier in the year. The Warriors are also believed to have Noah on their list of free agent targets.
One team apparently not viewed as a serious contender to sign Noah is his current team — the Bulls. An earlier report indicated that the veteran big man may want to leave Chicago, and Lawrence hears that Noah is indeed ready to move on.
Lawrence also suggests that the Wizards may be willing to offer Noah a maximum-salary contract, though that seems awfully hard to believe, given the veteran’s age, his health issues, and his modest production over the last couple seasons. J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com (Twitter link), who thinks Washington may pursue Noah, is skeptical that the club would offer him the max, as is Ben Standig of CSNMidAtlantic.com.
With the salary cap on the rise, we’ve been bracing for months for a crazy free agent period, with salaries that exceed what we would have expected. But a four-year max contract for Noah would start at $26MM+, and wouldn’t expire until he’s 35 years old. I could potentially imagine the Wizards being willing to do a maximum-salary deal for one or two years, if they’re unable to land any other top free agent targets, but even that would be a bit of a shock.
Still, according to Lawrence, multiple NBA general managers believe Noah could draw more interest than some other top big men on the market, and at least one GM thinks the longtime Bull will be very well-compensated as long as his shoulder isn’t a concern. “If teams are convinced Noah is healthy, he will get a max deal, and Washington is panicking because Nene is done and they didn’t make the playoffs last season,” the GM tells Lawrence. “They’ll overpay for Noah — they always do.”