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Joakim Noah not going anywhere as trade deadline nears

Center Joakim Noah (shown grabbing rebound last week over Spurs’ Tim Duncan) brings as much Bulls locker room as he

Center Joakim Noah (shown grabbing a rebound last week over the Spurs’ Tim Duncan) brings as much to the Bulls in the locker room as he does on the court. | Eric Gay/AP

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Updated: February 3, 2014 12:42PM



SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Bulls center Joakim Noah takes joy in proving people wrong.

He did it when he came out of Florida and strutted his way into the NBA, and he did it when he was named an NBA All-Star for the second consecutive season.

He isn’t done, either. Now it’s about putting a short-handed roster, without injured Derrick Rose and traded Luol Deng, on his shoulders and leading it on a playoff run.

‘‘It [stinks] to be a reporter, man,’’ Noah said last week of the doubters he and his teammates have heard this season. ‘‘It’s not about what people say; it’s about what we think. It’s about what people think in this locker room. I just appreciate my teammates’ effort, and I think that’s bigger than anything.’’

Noah established himself as an elite Eastern Conference center last season, but this season is different. The Bulls’ front office is open for business with the Feb. 20 trade deadline approaching, but Noah is an untouchable right now, one of only three the Bulls have.

The breakdown:

The untouchables

Rose: His knee injuries and huge contract make Rose untradable, even if the Bulls wanted to undergo a total face-lift. No, Rose is here to stay. And, if healthy, there’s no reason he can’t return to being a top-three point guard in the NBA.

Noah: There are better scoring and rebounding centers, but Noah is the standard in passing big men. He’s basically a point center in coach Tom Thibodeau’s offense. Even more impressive is what doesn’t appear in the box score. His leadership, energy and determination make Noah a keeper.

Thibodeau: The Bulls need Thibodeau more than Thibodeau needs the Bulls. There are only a handful of NBA coaches who actually have a direct influence on how games play out, and Thibodeau is one of them.

The keepers — unless . . .

Taj Gibson: There are reasons why Gibson’s stock is skyrocketing: an aggressive inside game, an
improved mid-range jumper, a motor on defense and a contract that is fiscally attractive for the next three seasons. But unless the Bulls know trading Gibson will
assure them of landing a player such as Carmelo Anthony or Le-
Bron James, he will stay.

Jimmy Butler: There have been more downs than ups for Butler
offensively this season, but he’s the perfect player for Thibodeau’s defense. He works too hard for his offense not to improve.

Tony Snell: In a package for an elite player? Done. But Snell isn’t even close to reaching his ceiling. He has a mentality Thibodeau loves and doesn’t flinch in big moments.

Let’s talk

Mike Dunleavy: At less than $1.5 million for the rest of this season and $3 million next season, Dunleavy is a bargain for a catch-and-shoot forward. That makes him a get on the trade market, and it only takes one general manager to overpay.

Kirk Hinrich: The trade rumors have quieted. There just isn’t a market for a veteran backup point guard who will be a free agent this offseason. But it only takes one injury for that to change, and Thibodeau seems to be sold on D.J. Augustin anyway.

Carlos Boozer: The Bulls would love to get some calls about Boozer, but it’s not happening because of his contract situation and because he hasn’t been playing well in the last month. If the right call did come in, GM Gar Forman gladly would drive Boozer to the airport.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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