CHICAGO — Two years ago he was the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year and one of the more popular members of a team still in the conversation for an NBA championship.
But with a new head coach in place and a new style of play implemented, it appeared the future of Joakim Noah in a Bulls uniform was limited before last season began. After playing in just 29 games and sitting out most of the season with a shoulder injury, the thought of the center returning to Chicago seemed less likely after a playoff-less season.
On Wednesday, it appears that Noah believes that his time in Chicago is done.
According to a report in the Chicago Sun Times, the nine-year veteran has told his teammates that he is done with the team. Reporter Joe Cowley said in the report that Noah told a Bulls teammate that he does not have faith in the front office to turn the team around.
This would be an unceremonious end for one of the better defensive players in franchise history.
After winning a pair of national championships with Florida, Noah was taken by the Bulls with the ninth pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. The center quickly established a defensive reputation with the team and in his third season posted his first double-digit rebound average (11 in 2009-2010). He would sign a five-year, $60 million contract before the next season.
He enjoyed his best stretch with the Bulls from 2012-2014 when he was twice named an NBA All-Star and was the league’s best defensive player in 2014. In both seasons Noah averaged double digits in points (11.9 in 2012-2013 and 12.6 in 2013-2014) and rebounds (11.1 in 2012-2013 and 11.3 in 2013-2014).
But knee surgery in May of 2014 limited the effectiveness of Noah during the next season as he played in just 67 games. His points dropped to 7.2 a game while his rebounds decreased to 9.6. When Fred Hoiberg took over as head coach, Noah was regulated to a reserve role behind Nikola Mirotic and ended up starting just two of 29 games he played in during the 2015-2016 season.
On January 15 Noah’s season ended when an injury against the Mavericks forced him to get surgery on his left shoulder.