Bulls

Nobody can get their story straight on Noah going to the bench

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Nobody can get their story straight on Noah going to the bench

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. — There appears to be a bit of a discrepancy in the “Joakim Noah volunteers to go to the bench” story many have believed, a move that has made way for Nikola Mirotic to enter the starting lineup before the season opener.

Noah said he never went to coach Fred Hoiberg to say he wanted to come off the bench, which is what Hoiberg said occurred. Knowing Noah as the competitor that he is, it didn’t seem to go parallel with the standards he’s set personally, especially considering he’s in the midst of a contract year.

But it looked as if Hoiberg was trying to protect Noah and prop him up psychologically as opposed to presenting it to the masses as a demotion or some kind of claim he’s no longer an effective player.

“I don’t remember, pick whatever (story) you want,” said Hoiberg coyly. “He came to me and had a discussion. He said he wanted to play with Taj. We had a very easy conversation, and I give him credit for initiating the conversation.”

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Noah agreed that a conversation was had but didn’t say he wanted to go to the bench. At this point it’s semantics, but perhaps it speaks to how Hoiberg wants to protect his players — either that or he made a bigger deal than it should’ve been.

“What I said doesn’t matter,” Noah said. “Right now we’re doing what’s best for the team. We just have to keep building.”

Mirotic’s presence has opened the floor for everybody on the perimeter, and it’s likely Hoiberg grouped Mirotic with Pau Gasol and Noah with Gibson during training camp practices, with the endgame of making Noah see for himself which combinations worked best.

“The conversation said I feel like I play well with Taj and I think Niko and Pau play well together,” Hoiberg said. “That’s how the conversation went.

“That’s the story and I’m sticking to it.”

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Noah said he gets to play center as opposed to power forward with Gasol, which puts him against more agile players, and playing with Gibson allows Gibson to protect the rim a little better.

“I think I’m more effective playing the 5 than the 4, and Pau is the same,” Noah said. “So it makes the most sense.”

Bottom line, it’s worked to the tune of two wins.

“He likes being in there with Taj, and Taj is our best rim runner,” Hoiberg said. “And Jo can facilitate and pass the ball. He said they have great chemistry together, and I agree with him.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Of Bulls and Blackhawks, which team will finish with higher draft pick?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Hub Arkush (ProFootball Weekly) and Jason Goch (SB Nation) join Kap on the panel.

The guys debate which team will finish with a higher draft pick when the season ends: Bulls or Blackhawks?

Plus, hear their reaction to the MLB’s new pace-of-play rule change.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

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AP

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

The Bulls made headlines on Tuesday when VP John Paxson announced that David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne would be entering the rotation, thus continuing the youth movement in Chicago.

On the surface the moves make sense. The 24-year-old Nwaba, the 25-year-old Felicio and the 23-year-old Cameron Payne will be replacing 28-year-old Justin Holiday, 29-year-old Robin Lopez and 25-year-old Jerian Grant. The Bulls want to see what they have in these younger players who haven't played much; they already know what they have in Lopez and Holiday, and Grant (like the other two) is under contract through next year.

OK, got that? Here's why they're making the move: they're sitting 8th in the NBA Lottery standings and really want to move into the top-5 to give themselves a chance at what should be a loaded front-end of the draft class. It's pretty obvious, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either named Gar Forman, John Paxson or Fred Hoiberg.

And here's why: On Wednesday Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined a whopping $600,000 by the NBA for comments he made on a podcast regarding tanking. The Mavericks are currently 18-40, the third worst record in the NBA. This comes a season after they finished 33-49, netting them the No. 9 pick that turned into talented point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

So when Cuban was asked about the best interests of his Dallas team, which touts young talent but clearly isn't headed for the postseason in 2018, he said this on the House Call with Dr. J Podcast:

"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option. [Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

Cuban isn't wrong, and the Mavericks sure as hell aren't the only team tanking. But to come right now and admit that losing is the team's best option wasn't, as Cuban predicted, going to sit well with the league office.

Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo with the fine that said Cuban's comments "which concerned his perspective on the team's competitive success this season" were "detrimental to the NBA."

So while the Bulls are going about their business in trying to lose as many games down the stretch as possible, don't expect anyone to admit it's the reason behind their personnel moves. There are 600,000 reasons why.