The Chicago Bulls have had a slow start to the season. There have been games where they have shown up, games where they have been missing in action and everything in between. The firing of Tom Thibodeau and hiring of Fred Hoiberg in his place was supposed to get the offense going. But instead of getting the offense going, the Bulls have seemingly been stunted on that end. They rank at the back end of the NBA in scoring, worse than they did last season. And on the defensive end, they are not giving the same effort they used to. Only one guy has been consistent throughout all their ups and down this season: guard Jimmy Butler. But if they are to pick it up, some things have to change. Jimmy Butler went public this week, criticizing coach Hoiberg and saying that he needed to be harder on everyone, including him. The win on Thursday versus the Oklahoma City Thunder is only is a temporary coat of makeup to cover the blemishes they have. The Bulls have no identity. It used to be that they played harder than anyone else and played stingy defense. But this year that cannot even be counted on and they have coasted in some games as well. In this situation, something has to change and change now.
In the 2015 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls drafted power forward Bobby Portis. The young big man out of Arkansas can shoot the three, post up and he can handle the basketball. He seems to be a matchup nightmare for teams on a nightly basis. But because of the gluttony of big men the Bulls have (Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson), he cannot get any playing time. As a result, there have been many rumors floating around of shaking the Bulls’ roster up and trading at least one of these big men to free up time for Portis. But which one should it be? Each one of these players bring a different element to the team. And in different times, all of them have stepped up and helped get a win for the team. But standing at 16-12 is not what they imagined this year and something has to change. There will be plenty of people looking at acquiring Pau Gasol. The 36 year old is very skilled and has championship experience (won two rings with the Los Angeles Lakers). Taj is the grit and grime player for the Bulls. But the difference between he and Noah is Gibson can score when given the opportunity and has a better stroke. With Mirotic, the Bulls are still trying to figure it out. He has some good games, but he has some games where he is non-existent. And this staff is also trying to figure out whether they want to play him at the small forward or the power forward position. That leaves Noah, who is currently out with a shoulder injury, as the best possible odd man out.
Noah’s shoulder injury he has is not expected to be anything too series. The veteran center is supposed to be back in two weeks. And if he shows that he is healthy, he will draw some trade interest. The most attractive thing about him is that he is a guy that does not require the basketball to make an impact. He can be your secondary ball-handler, a defensive anchor and he will make all the hustle plays that a championship team needs. And to top it all off, he has a contract that is expiring at the end of the season. Whoever is to trade for him, they will essentially have the rest of the season to check him out. And if they don’t like what they see, then they can let him go and not have to be tied up to his contract. The Bulls would more than likely be looking for another wing player or potentially their point guard of the future in this deal also. Nothing is set in stone, but Noah is definitely dangling out there for someone to take. And for many, it is just a matter of “when” and not “if” when it comes to Noah leaving town.
The Bulls have been identified by two players for some time now: Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. They both had some good and bad times, but the fact of the matter is their time is all but up in Chicago. Noah is a free agent this season and Rose will a free agent in 2017. The winds of change are blowing in the Windy City and Rose and Noah could be the next few to get swept out of town. But as far as this offseason, the change is definitely necessary because Bobby Portis is too skilled to be sitting on the bench not getting playing time. And Noah may be the guy that has to go that will clear way for him to get more playing time.