Glum Joakim Noah realizes Bulls might be broken up
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter November 26, 2013 8:10PM
BULLS AT PISTONS
The facts: 6:30 p.m., CSN, 1000-AM.
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Updated: November 28, 2013 10:56PM
Center Joakim Noah doesn’t want to play general manager.
Not with everything he and his teammates have gone through the last five days. Really, not ever.
But he has been around long enough to know how it works. He also knows that with guard Derrick Rose gone for the season, a payroll over the luxury tax and some players who could draw interest on the trade market, business is business.
Maybe that’s why he has been so down since Rose’s injury, “trying to find my spirit out there on the court.’’
The core knows its chance to win a championship this season is on life support, and the likelihood of this group staying together is coming to an end.
Asked after the 89-83 overtime loss Monday against the Jazz if he thought rebuilding was a viable option for the front office, Noah said, “I think it’s possible. I mean, yeah.’’
Emotion is allowed to seep into a locker room. It has for the Bulls.
“We’re praying for [Rose],’’ forward Carlos Boozer said. “It would be tough on anybody to go through what he has the last couple of years.’’
But emotion can’t influence the front office. So while general manager Gar Forman has spent the last 72 hours hearing and reading all the different opinions from the outside, his job is to be realistic about the situation.
His reality might not be what people want to hear, but it’s what he and the organization are sticking to.
“The culture that has been created with the type of guys that we have is about continuing to get better, competing on a nightly basis,’’ Forman said when asked if he believed this roster still could compete with the Heat and Pacers. “We’ve got talent on this team.
“So are we looking ahead? We’ve never been in the mode where we’re looking ahead that far.’’
That doesn’t mean Forman won’t break up the team if need be. Asked if he could say this is the core they’re going with all season, he said, “It’s our job in any season to always be evaluating our team, evaluating where we’re at, where we’re headed and look to see how we can improve. We’ll continue to do that.’’
Forman also is dealing with a new collective-bargaining agreement that makes acquiring draft picks more difficult, especially in a draft as loaded as the upcoming one.
“Under the new CBA, the sense I get around the league is [draft picks] are becoming more valuable because of the opportunity of having guys locked into reasonable contracts long-term who can be productive players for you,’’ Forman said.
And even trying to trade a free agent-to-be such as Luol Deng isn’t easy because you have to take similar salary in return. Unless that also comes with a draft pick, it would be senseless for the Bulls to do it.
This isn’t your fantasy-football office league, and the key for Forman and the rest of the organization is to give it a bit more time to play out, likely waiting until the offseason to make significant changes.
“Obviously, this latest bump in the road, it’s still fresh,’’ Forman said. “It’s still early in the process, and we’re not going to make any rash decisions.
‘‘We have good, young players in their 20s, we have assets coming, we’re going to have flexibility for the first time since the new CBA came out, so we still think we’re positioned well as we move forward.’’