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Filed under: T-Mobile Player/Whatever of the Week: Joakim Noah

This post is sponsored by T-Mobile.

(Yes, I was supposed to be doing these, and sort of whiffed after going on T-Mobile overload during All-Star weekend.)

I thought I'd take this sponsored opportunity to open the floor on Noah, whose absence over the past week was felt even moreso than the first time this season he went out, with the Bulls getting abused by three opposing frontcourts from Atlanta, Memphis, and Dallas. Team offensive rebounding has gone into the tank, and the defense in general doesn't look nearly the same.

There's been no adjustment to the original 3-week (now 2, I suppose) timeline for Noah's absence, and how he comes back (whether it's in meaningful games by then or not) could be a big deal. He's eligible for an early contract extension this offseason, and while the Bulls have expressed how much they value him, (whatever validity we can give that) I wonder how this injury could potentially help or hurt any negotiations. Maybe it helps Noah's side lean towards security first. Or perhaps their numbers will be too far off.

Would you even offer the early extension? They do not kick in that next season (though his contract gets a 'poison pill' designation and is very hard to trade) so it wouldn't effect 2010 cap space. Not signing him by the end of this offseason means he's a restricted free agent in summer 2011. I'd assume it'd be done last after the tasks of using the 2010 cap space (and, who knows, maybe using Noah in a sign/trade) is complete.

So congrats to Noah for this illustrious award. We clearly need you...but for how much?