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Joakim Noah won’t deny talk with Carmelo Anthony, but Phil Jackson stories add new spin

New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) is defended by Utah Jazz's GordHayward (20) during second half an NBA basketball game

New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony (7) is defended by Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward (20) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, March 7, 2014, in New York. The Knicks won the game 108-81. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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Updated: March 8, 2014 12:11AM



Joakim Noah had quite a busy All-Star Weekend.

ESPN reported Thursday that he spoke with Carmelo Anthony about opting out of his deal and joining the Bulls in the offseason.

But a teammate said Noah “planted the seed’’ with other players as well as Anthony. Noah told teammates that several players said they admired the Bulls’ style of play and “would love to play with us.’’

“I guess Jo made it a business trip,’’ the teammate joked on Friday.

Noah was asked about the Anthony rumor after the morning shootaround and never denied it, but he chalked it up as nothing more than March gossip.

“What are you talking about, the gossip going on?’’ Noah said. “A lot of gossip right now, a lot of gossip. I feel it. I feel a lot of gossip. I think we all know that we’re in a good place, our team is in a good place. We’ve got a healthy group, it’s a healthy environment, and we’re not going to let gossip get in the way of what we’re doing. We’ve gone through so much this year, so it’s not going to be a little gossip that gets out there.

“You want me to address that? I don’t feel like addressing it. I really have nothing to say.’’

When asked if the story was accurate, Noah said, “Doesn’t matter. What does that have to do with our team now? It doesn’t matter.’’

Coach Tom Thibodeau agreed with that point.

“The thing is, at the beginning of the year in our first meeting, we talk about all those things,’’ Thibodeau said. “It’s predictable; it’s going to happen every year. You can predict when it’s going to happen. OK, as you get closer to the trade deadline, stuff is going to get talked about. Then after, it’s the free agents. It’s always something.’’

Thibodeau did take exception to Knicks coach Mike Woodson telling a radio station that Noah broke league rules and was tampering.

“You know, legally, nobody can recruit anyone,’’ Woodson said.

“To me, it’s just a bunch of nonsense,’’ Thibodeau said. “We don’t pay any attention to it, just get ready for [the next game]. . . . It’s all nonsense. We’re just concentrating on our next opponent.’’

If Noah was recruiting Anthony, that process took a hit Friday, when it was reported that Phil Jackson was contacted by the Knicks about their expected coaching vacancy, but ESPN later reported that Jackson passed on the job. Another report had Jackson mulling over a front-office position with the Knicks.

So where does this leave the story? Basically under the category of, “Yeah, so . . .’’

Players talking to other players about switching teams is about as common as players talking about their shoe deals.

It happens often.

Ask Taj Gibson, who was recruited by LeBron James during the summer in 2012 while playing for the USA Select Team.

This is the new NBA, where players want to dictate rosters and take it out of the hands of ownership.

Noah eventually was asked if he’d be willing to play recruiter when free agency begins July 1, especially because it’s a role Derrick Rose wants no part of, and he said, “July 1? July 1, really? We’re talking about July 1 right now? Come on now. I understand you guys are doing your jobs, but I’ve got to do my job.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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