Joakim Noah: ‘My goal is to stay in Chicago’


Sep 22

Joakim Noah gets it. Rumors in sports are inevitable and more often than not just that—unfounded speculation. So when he was asked for his thoughts on being included in recent reports surrounding a possible deal for Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, he spoke from the heart while remaining politically correct.

“It’s part of the business,” said Noah. “I think it’s something that happens in sports. Right now, I’ve just got to control the things that I can control as a player and that’s getting ready for the season. As far as I know, I’m still part of the Bulls today.”

During an event at Lathrop Elementary School on the city’s West Side, where Noah appeared as part of a school supply challenge rally, he said that it was in a way complimentary to be included in a rumored deal for a player like Anthony, but several times reiterated his desire to remain in Chicago.

“Obviously, Carmelo is a great player,” Noah lamented. “But I think we’re also very good right now. I really enjoy playing with guys like Luol Deng and Taj Gibson and other guys who were rumored into that trade. Either way, we’ll be fine.”

Noah said he has spoken with General Manager Gar Forman and EVP-Basketball Operations John Paxson on the matter, but declined to get into specifics. He also confirmed that he’s been working on a contract extension with the Bulls—hardly an indication the team is looking to move him.

“Right now I’m in a situation where we’re negotiating, but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do to talk about it,” said Noah.

Set to enter his fourth professional season, Noah downplayed that the rumors were in any way distracting.

“There are bigger issues in Chicago than where I’m going to go play,” he said.

What Noah was more open to discussing was clearly the future of his current team with training camp set to officially open on Monday.

“I think that we have a chance to be very good, but I also understand that right now it’s all talk,” Noah said when asked about higher expectations. “We’ve got to go out there and play the game the right way. There are a lot of good teams out there and one thing that I’ve learned is that you can’t take any teams lightly. Just because somebody says we have a chance to be a top four team, we have to go out there and get that top four seed. We have the potential to do it, yes; but it’s going to take a lot of hard work.”

In an offseason loaded with changes, Noah acknowledges there is work to be done and he isn’t taking anything for granted.

“We still have a lot of question marks,” said Noah. “We’re a team with a lot of new players and new coach. We just have to go out there and play to the best of our ability and we’ll be pretty good.”

Whether or not the Carmelo Anthony saga, with its shades of this past summer’s free agency chase, carries on once practices begin and the regular season nears remains to be seen. But as far as Joakim Noah is concerned, he’s ready to put it to rest and make his commitment to the Bulls.

“It’s always a strange feeling,” said Noah of the speculation. “Any given day, you can get traded to a city that you don’t know anything about it. At the same time, if you look at the big picture, things could be a lot worse. My goal is to stay in Chicago. I think that we can do something really special here and I hope I can be a part of that.”

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