Joakim Noah

And-Ones: I. Thomas, Noah, Spencer, NCAA Prospects

Veteran point guard Isaiah Thomas signed 10-day hardship deals with the Mavericks and Lakers last season before catching on with the Hornets to finish 2021/22. He has yet to play in ’22/23, but has been “staying ready” and hasn’t given up hope of finding a new team.

I’ve been talking to two teams the last couple of weeks,” Thomas told Steve Bulpett of “Hopefully they make a decision by the end of this week or early next week. But I’ve been in contact with teams monthly.

So that’s the thing with me, like, I know it’s close; I just have to find the team that really wants me to be on board and me to help in any situation possible. My agency and my representatives are just trying to figure it out. Obviously there’s a lot of overseas interest, but that’s just not even on my mind right now, so I don’t even want to dip into that. My ultimate goal is to have an NBA jersey. That’s all I want.”

Thomas knows he might not have a significant role going forward like he did earlier in his career, but he still believes he can contribute on and off the court, according to Bulpett.

I think at this point in my career, that will probably be the role of being a vet presence, teaching guys how to be professional — and also knowing that if my name is ever called, I’m ready to produce,” Thomas said. “I’m only 34 years old, but I haven’t played much the last three years really, so I haven’t had no real pounding on my body. The surgery in 2020 fixed the hip problem, and my body’s really 31, 32; I’ve got years to be able to play at a high level. But that’s not what I’m chasing; I want to be able to play in the NBA and go out on my own. That’s really what I want. I want to be able to play two or three more years, and if my name is called, I know I can produce at a high level. I know that for a fact.”

The two-time All-Star also tells Bulpett he has interest in a coaching or front office role in the future once his playing days are done.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah recently spoke to Marc J. Spears of Andscape about retiring from the NBA, his Cameroonian roots, and being an investor and ambassador of the Basketball Africa League, among other topics. “I’m very proud,” Noah said. “I’m very proud in being an investor in NBA Africa. I feel like this is opening up doors that I didn’t know were possible while I was playing. And I think that the future is very, very bright because Africa is not only shining right now, but they are [one of the] the youngest growing youth populations in the world. So. if you look at the numbers themselves, this league is just going to get better and better. It’s just so obvious.”
  • Felton Spencer, who played 12 NBA seasons from 1990-2002, has passed away at age 55, the University of Louisville announced (via Twitter). A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Spencer was the No. 6 overall pick in the 1990 draft, holding career averages of 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 640 games with Minnesota, Utah, Orlando, Golden State, San Antonio and New York. Our condolences go out to his friends and family.
  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report ranks the top 25 2023 NBA draft prospects competing in the NCAA tournament. At the top of the list is Alabama’s Brandon Miller, while Arkansas forward Jordan Walsh, who is known as a defensive difference-maker, rounds out the top 25.

And-Ones: Team USA, Koufos, Ignite, Noah

An announcement on Gregg Popovich’s replacement regarding Team USA’s head coaching vacancy probably won’t come until closer to the end of the calendar year, Marc Stein of Substack reports. Previously, the opening was expected to be filled by the start of the NBA season. The timeline for completing the search has been pushed back for procedural reasons, according to Stein, who previously reported that Steve Kerr is the most likely successor.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • In the same post from Stein, he notes that former NBA center Kosta Koufos will still play for the G League’s Ignite team but his arrival has been delayed due to the birth of his first child. Koufos is joining the Ignite after playing two seasons in the EuroLeague. Amir Johnson and Pooh Jeter are among the other veterans on the team, which allows top prospects to get a taste of professional basketball to prepare for next year’s draft.
  • The Ignite team – which trains in Walnut Creek, California – will play eight home games in Las Vegas, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. The first two of those games will be a back-to-back next month against the Clippers’ Agua Caliente squad.
  • The Bulls have named Joakim Noah as a team ambassador and the 36-yard-old Noah has no regrets about retiring, he told Sam Smith of the team’s website. “Obviously, I miss the competition and I miss the locker room,” Noah said. “But when your body tells you it’s time to go, it’s time to go. So you have to be honest with yourself. I shot every bullet in my gun and I have no regrets. I gave it everything I got.”

Bulls Name Joakim Noah Team Ambassador

Joakim Noah, who will be honored by the Bulls during Thursday night’s game vs. the Knicks, has been named a “Bulls Ambassador,” the team announced in a press release. According to the club, Noah will work with the organization to “build relationships with people throughout Chicago and across Bulls Nation.”

“I’m truly humbled to be honored by both the team and city that I have always loved and respected,” Noah said in a statement. “Even more so to be able to celebrate tonight with family, friends, former players and coaches, and most of all – the Bulls fans who helped drive my energy throughout my years in a Bulls uniform at the United Center. It means so much to me that I’m now a Bull for life. I love you all and am thrilled tonight to solidify my continued connection with the Bulls and the city of Chicago, in this new chapter of my life.”

The ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft, Noah spent the first nine seasons of his 13-year NBA career in Chicago. Although he never averaged more than 12.6 PPG in a season, he was a difference-maker for the Bulls, earning three All-Defensive nods and two All-Star appearances.

Noah’s best year came in 2013/14, when he was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year and was voted to the All-NBA First Team. The Bulls made the playoffs in seven consecutive years during his time with the team, appearing in the Eastern Finals once. Noah announced his retirement earlier this year.

Noah’s ambassador role sounds like a fairly casual one, focused primarily on fan outreach. However, if he has interest in transitioning into coaching or a front office position in the future, I imagine the Bulls would be open to accommodating him.

Eastern Notes: Martin-Garrett, Spoelstra, Bucks, Noah

The top-heavy Heat could benefit from their two-way players proving their NBA mettle sooner rather than later. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel wonders if either of their two two-way players, guards Caleb Martin or Marcus Garrett, could find their way onto Miami’s 15-man roster by the end of the year.

Because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, two-way player rules no longer have restrictions on how frequently two-way players can practice or travel with their NBA clubs. Winderman thinks Garrett will see more run with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, but that Martin could carve out a fringe rotation role at the next level.

The 6’5″ Martin played his first two years with the Hornets, and holds career averages of 5.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG and 1.3 APG, with shooting splits of .391/.315/.682.

There’s more out of the East:

  • Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra could be a finalist to succeed Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich in future international competitions, opines Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Spoelstra coached the Select Team, comprised of young up-and-coming American players, who faced off against Team USA ahead of their gold medal run this summer.
  • The Bucks could look to more carefully manage the minutes of Olympic champions Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, coming off the club’s championship run, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic in an extensive mailbag. Nehm anticipates that second-year forwards Jordan Nwora and Mamadi Diakite, as well as reserve point guard George Hill, will benefit the most from the resting of Holiday and Middleton.
  • Retiring former Bulls All-Star center Joakim Noah will be celebrated by Chicago during an October 28 Bulls-Knicks contest. The Knicks are led by Noah’s former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, and feature his former Chicago teammates Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls are currently led by Noah’s old college coach, Billy Donovan, with whom Noah won two straight NCAA titles with the University of Florida in 2006 and 2007. Noah was a two-time All-Star and the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year while with the Bulls.

Joakim Noah To Retire

Veteran big man Joakim Noah is “effectively” retiring as a player, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Charania, the plan is for Noah to eventually retire as a Bull.

Noah, who turned 36 last Thursday, spent nine of his 13 seasons with the Bulls after being selected by the team with the ninth overall pick in the 2007 draft. His best seasons came in Chicago, where he was the anchor of the team’s frontcourt under head coach Tom Thibodeau, playing alongside Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Luol Deng.

Noah earned an All-Star berth, as well as a spot on the All-Defensive First Team, in both 2013 and 2014. He was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year for the 2013/14 season and was a member of the All-NBA First Team that year as well. He also received an All-Defensive Second Team nod in 2011.

The former Florida Gator standout had a decorated college career before entering the NBA, winning back-to-back NCAA championships in 2006 and 2007 under head coach Billy Donovan.

Following his stint with the Bulls, Noah signed a four-year, $72MM contract with the Knicks during 2016’s infamous free agency period. He appeared in just 53 total games across two seasons in New York before being waived and stretched — his annual $6.4MM cap hits remain on the Knicks’ books through 2021/22.

Noah also enjoyed brief stints with the Grizzlies in 2018/19 and Clippers in ’19/20. When Noah was waived by Los Angeles at the start of training camp in December, agent Bill Duffy said his client would likely end up retiring.

When Noah officially signs a ceremonial contract with Chicago to retire as a Bull, he’ll be following in the footsteps of his former teammate Deng, who did the same thing in 2019.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Knicks Notes: Toppin, Knox, Houston, Robinson

While 25th overall pick Immanuel Quickley has shown signs he could be the Knicks’ answer at point guard, lottery pick Obi Toppin has gotten off to a surprisingly slow start to his NBA career, Mike Vornukov of The Athletic writes. The No. 8 pick is averaging 12.0 MPG after coming into the draft with the reputation as the most NBA-ready player in his class, Vornukov points out. Part of the problem is he’s been used as a big wing, rather than as a rim runner and pick-and-roll threat, Vornukov adds.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • Kevin Knox vows to stay positive despite the fact he’s fallen out of the rotation, Peter Botte of the New York Post writes. “I’m going to continue to be ready, because anything can happen, at any moment, any given time,” Knox said. “So I want to make sure that I’m ready. I’ll continue to get my reps up, continue to shoot the ball well, focus a lot on defense, watch a lot of film, so when they do call my number and my time does come, I’m ready.”
  • Allan Houston’s new front office title is Vice President, Player Leadership & Development, Ian Begley of SNY tweets. Last season, Houston was GM for the organization’s G League affiliate in Westchester. He was also a former assistant GM in the organization. Pops Mensah-Bonsu is now Director of Minor League Operations, Begley adds.
  • Center Mitchell Robinson reminds coach Tom Thibodeau of a young Joakim Noah, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. “(Noah) started off as a defensive player, an energy guy, a guy who ran the floor well,” Thibodeau said. “He was an excellent passer, decision maker, very good with dribble handoffs and I think that’s a part of Mitch’s game that can grow. And so we’ll challenge him in that way.”

Clippers Waive Joakim Noah; Retirement Likely

10:09 pm: The Clippers have officially announced in a press release that they’ve waived Noah.

8:35 pm: As was expected following news of Reggie Jackson‘s return earlier today, the Clippers will waive backup center Joakim Noah, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.

In a less expected development, Noah’s agent at BDA Sports, Bill Duffy, told Wojnarowski that the 6’11” center will likely retire rather than seek a basketball home elsewhere for 2020/21. Though the 35-year-old big man struggled during his lone Los Angeles season, he had a productive run as an energizing reserve with the Grizzlies the year prior.

“What an illustrious career for Joakim,” Duffy reflected. “It’s been my honor to represent Joakim through his journey.” 

Noah won two NCAA championships with the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2007, alongside future NBA pros Al Horford, Corey Brewer, Marreesse Speights, Chris Richard, and Taurean Green. Those legendary Florida squads were coached by new Bulls head coach Billy Donovan.

After being drafted by the Bulls with the ninth pick in the 2007 draft, Noah went on to make two All-Star teams and help lead a culture change in Chicago, transforming the team into an energetic, defensive-first behemoth.

Noah’s crowning individual accolade in the NBA was being named Defensive Player of the Year for the 2013/14 season. He also made the All-NBA First Team that season and finished with the fourth-most MVP votes that year (ahead of James Harden). During that standout season, Noah averaged 12.6 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.5 BPG, and 1.2 SPG across 80 games.

Overall, Noah was a three-time All-Defensive Team inclusion. Noah’s defensive moxie, stellar rebounding, terrific passing, and unique style and free throw form made him a local favorite during his Bulls tenure.

Noah signed a lucrative four-year, $72MM deal with his hometown Knicks during the free agency boom of 2016. The union was ultimately cut short ahead of the 2018/19 season, when New York opted to waive and stretch the rest of Noah’s deal. The club will be paying him $6.4MM during both the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons, as Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets.

The Bulls will likely consider honoring the unique big man in much the same way they paid tribute to his long-time teammate, former All-Star Bulls forward Luol Deng. Chicago inked a one-day contract with Deng in October 2019 so that he could officially retire as a Bull. Noah has certainly earned a similarly hallowed place in the hearts of Bulls fans to merit such a tribute.

Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets that this latest move means that the Clippers now have 13 guaranteed deals on their books, and currently find themselves a crucial $2.2MM below the league’s restrictive hard cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions To Bulls’ Billy Donovan Hire

The Bullshiring of Billy Donovan as their new head coach was met with positive reviews by rival executives and by agents of Bulls players alike, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. One Eastern Conference GM who spoke to Scotto pointed out that Donovan has yet to coach a team without a “strong personality,” meaning it will be interesting to see how he shapes Chicago’s young core.

“Looking at the other jobs for Billy, the only one that might have been better for him is New Orleans, but I can see why he went with Chicago,” the GM told HoopsHype. “They have young talent, lots of flexibility, a great city, and solid ownership.”

“It’s great,” an agent said of the Donovan hire. “He or Kenny Atkinson would’ve been good choices. They can only go up. They have a lot of talent and underachieved, so he can look really good when they do better.”

Here’s more on the Bulls’ new head coach:

  • Joakim Noah, who played under Donovan during his college days at Florida, lauded the hire in a conversation with K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “He’s someone who cares about his players, someone who is very demanding, someone who is very competitive and just has a great balance to him,” Noah said. “It’s a great hire.” Nick Friedell of ESPN wonders (via Twitter) if a reunion between Noah and the Bulls could be in the cards now that Donovan is in the picture.
  • Zach LaVine was streaming Call of Duty on Facebook Gaming when word broke that the Bulls were hiring Donovan, so his reaction was captured live, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago details. “Oh damn, we got Billy Donovan as our next coach,” LaVine said on the feed. “Wow. That’ll be good… Really good coach.”
  • Donovan brings flexibility, crunch-time success, consistency, and player-development skills to the Bulls, writes Darnell Mayberry for The Athletic. Meanwhile, over at NBC Sports Chicago, Rob Schaefer’s breakdown of four ways Donovan can immediately help the Bulls covers some of the same bases as Mayberry’s piece.
  • While Chicago’s new head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas faced a little criticism for taking so long to part ways with previous head coach Jim Boylen, it’s worth noting that Donovan wouldn’t have been available if the team had moved quickly to replace Boylen when Karnisovas was hired in the spring, observes Jon Greenberg of The Athletic.

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Thibodeau, Wanamaker, Hall

Sixers star Ben Simmons has undergone a fundamental change in his thinking when it comes to shooting threes, according to head coach Brett Brown, as relayed by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

Simmons has reached a new level of familiarity behind the arc, becoming more and more comfortable with taking three-pointers as the year’s progressed. He attempted a pair of threes in the team’s scrimmage against Memphis on Friday, connecting on one in the corner.

“Just playing,” Simmons said. “We’ve been practicing, working on just finding that corner. I’m very comfortable over there, and I’ve been shooting those shots, so I’m glad my teammates are finding me.”

Brown has used Simmons at power forward since landing in Orlando, testing a lineup that features Shake Milton, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris, Simmons and Joel Embiid in limited time. The team is hopeful Simmons can build on his new position and thinking in the longterm, especially in a league primarily centered on spreading the floor.

“I get excited [watching it] … He doesn’t flinch,” Brown said. “The sport told him, ‘I’m open, nobody is guarding me, shoot it,’ and he did. There was no hesitation about what’s next, or, ‘What decision do I have to make now?'”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • Former Knicks center Joakim Noah believes Tom Thibodeau is a perfect hire for the organization, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes. Noah, who was coached by Thibodeau in Chicago from 2010-15, praised his defensive tenacity and winning ways after the news broke. “Defense and practice habits,” Noah wrote in a comment on social media. “The Knicks are in good hands. All he cares about is hoop. Perfect fit.” Thibodeau is finalizing a five-year agreement with the organization, according to ESPN.
  • Celtics guard Brad Wanamaker is taking advantage of his opportunity with the team, Taylor Snow of writes. Wanamaker has earned the respects of his teammates as a natural leader, averaging 6.6 points, 2.5 assists and 19.3 minutes as a back-up point guard this season. He recorded nine points, four rebounds and four assists in the team’s scrimmage win against Phoenix on Sunday, logging 21 minutes.
  • Nets big man Donta Hall has practiced with the team for the first time since inking his contract earlier this month, Zach Braziller writes in a separate story for the New York Post. Despite not playing in Saturday’s scrimmage against San Antonio, Hall is expected to receive action in the coming days with the team. “We’ll be able to see if we’re able to have some growth from him during this bubble period and he definitely should get some minutes to help us along with these games,” interim coach Jacque Vaughn said.

Pacific Notes: Morris Twins, Barnes, Suns, Noah, More

There are a few players who showed up on the list of official rosters released on Monday by the NBA who still haven’t reported to the Walt Disney World campus. However, more players continue to arrive by the day.

According to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register (Twitter link), Clippers forward Marcus Morris is at the team’s Tuesday morning practice today, having reported to the campus and cleared his quarantine period. His twin brother Markieff Morris will be joining the Lakers soon, Marcus tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets that Markieff is expected to arrive at the campus today and will begin his initial quarantine.

Meanwhile, Kings forward Harrison Barnes, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, could depart for Orlando as soon as today if he returns one more negative coronavirus test, Spears reports (via Twitter).

Finally, Ricky Rubio, Aron Baynes, Elie Okobo, and Jalen Lecque didn’t make the initial trip to Orlando two weeks ago with the Suns and still hadn’t practiced with the club as of Sunday, sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. A pair of Suns players tested positive for the coronavirus nearly a month ago, but it’s not clear if any or all of the delayed arrivals are related to COVID-19.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Kings forward Jabari Parker and center Alex Len spoke to reporters on Monday about their experiences with COVID-19, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee details. Len, who said he temporarily lost his sense of smell and taste while dealing with the virus, tested positive for 24 consecutive days before eventually returning multiple negative tests and being cleared.
  • Clippers big man Joakim Noah has benefited from the NBA’s hiatus, which gave him more time to get fully healthy after suffering an Achilles injury, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Noah’s new teammates are impressed by what they’ve seen so far from the veteran center. “He’s just bringing that energy every day,” guard Rodney McGruder said. “That’s something that I’m learning from him, and it’s just the intensity and just the persistence that he plays with on the defensive end, how you always hear his voice. He’s always yelling, he’s always talking.”
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic identifies the wings in this year’s draft class that he thinks would fit best with the Warriors, including Isaac Okoro, Aaron Nesmith, and Saddiq Bey.