When 'early' means 'on time' as it comes to Joakim Noah


There's been no update to Alex Kennedy's Hoopsworld report from Saturday morning stating Noah's unhappiness with his contract situation heading into training camp, including his supposed 'statement' of not showing up at the encouraged early arrival.

Training camp officially starts Monday (yay! news!), and Noah will be there, though contract extension not in hand. The Tribune's KC Johnson (who's certainly proven to be, ahem, 'plugged in' to Bulls management) has taken to the twitter and saying this is nothing to worry about: an extension will be done. Though he covers by saying 'will be' may be next offseason when Noah is a restricted free agent.  While not specifically mentioning numbers like the Hoopsworld report,  Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that the two sides were 'far apart'. How can they really close a large gap if one side doesn't negotiate?

It's been reported in past seasons when offering early extensions (which is the contract period Noah's in until the start of the season) that the Bulls often make firm, fair offers that may be considered an eventual discount for them, but with the understanding it provides early security for the player that they don't have to give.

I asked KC directly (twitter is neat like that) whether this is a true negotiation, or more take-it-or-let-market-set-it like the past, and he speculated that this would have more 'give and take'. That's encouraging news, as there hardline approach has rubbed players the wrong way in previous seasons.

I jokingly made the parallel of these trade rumors and contract talks to those of the '07-'08 disaster, and it's still merely tongue-in-cheek. But while the Bulls encourage players to get to camp early there's a similarly good-faith reason to get contracts done early as well. This year's team is far too talented (though with an inexperienced head coach) to fold like that Ben Wallace-'led' Bulls team did, but it still seems simply unnecessary to have uncertainty with one of your self-touted franchise cornerstones, all to save potentially (at most) a few million each season.

Not that there isn't a limit to what they should offer Noah, but I can't imagine the eventual compromise would be so high (including his rumored stance of $70m over the 5 years) to where I'm upset. The Bulls are capped-out for years to come, any additional funds is just cash from the largest profit-coffers in the league. In contrast, a situation where Noah leaves as a free agent would be pretty indefensible.

So while the Bulls may feel they have no pressure on themselves to act swiftly, there has to be some dollar figure in mind that's worth not going into this season with a disgruntled young cornerstone? I'm not one to buy into 'bad vibes' being worth much consideration, but it's some consideration. The Bulls are basically confirming a summer's worth of verbal commitment to Noah by not including him in a possible deal for Carmelo Anthony. So they should commit officially with a massive pay increase.

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