Bulls

Bulls: Joakim Noah admits to frustration, trying to find his way

joakim-noah-bulls-spurs-insider-1130.png

Bulls: Joakim Noah admits to frustration, trying to find his way

For a player who relies on energy and emotion, it’s easy to see Joakim Noah has had a hard time adjusting to a lesser role this season.

Coming off the bench, playing for a new coach and having his unorthodox skills marginalized to a degree seems to have taken a toll on his soul. But on those rare nights where he puts it together, he holds this Bulls’ team emotionally like few others can.

And the full Noah experience was on display in the Bulls’ 92-89 win over the San Antonio Spurs Monday at the United Center. He crossed over David West on the perimeter on the way for a layup, then a couple possessions later took Tim Duncan to the basket for another score.

Of course, his eight points don’t register as much as his 11 rebounds and seven assists or even his emotion that permeates through the team, but having him “at least look at the basket” makes things easier, according to Derrick Rose.

“I’m not gonna lie and say there hasn’t been a lot going on this year,” Noah said. “There’s been a lot of adversity for me. I have to be better to be a good leader for this team.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Being a leader is tough if the production isn’t there to match, especially if the production isn’t up to usual standards and the nights where it all comes together feels more like an anomaly than regular occurrence.

“He got his swag back,” Jimmy Butler said. “You could see by the way he’s walking around here. His spirits are high. That’s what we need every day. Everybody knows Jo is a high spirited, very emotional guy.”

His minutes, scoring and shooting are career-lows, so it’s likely hard for him to project confidence and energy when he doesn’t know how his game fits into this new incarnation of the only team he’s ever known.

Not to mention, the man is playing for a contract next season, all the more reason it appears he’s stuck inside his own head. When asked if the frustration stemmed from coming off the bench, a mini-controversy in itself from the preseason, he finally opened up after relenting with the media for awhile.

“It’s not that. I wanna play the whole game, you know? I never want to come out,” he said. “I understand this is my role now and I just have to accept it and be the best I can with what I can. Overall we just beat a very good team tonight. There’s been games where I haven’t played well, (where) I played like (bleep). I have to keep building on this, hopefully, play confident basketball and it’ll definitely be a plus for this team.”

[MORE: Bulls stout defenses masks ongoing offensive struggles]

There’s a lot of pride in those words, a lot of emotion coming from a player who’s spent his entire career feeding off it no matter the circumstances. So it’s why his teammates stand behind him, encouraging him because they can see the frustration — while also recognizing he can lift this team to a different level when he’s right.

“Jo’s like a brother to me, man,” Derrick Rose said. “He works hard. He’s one of the hardest workers in the league. You always got to tell him to get off the court after shootaround. Usually players go home after shootaround, he’ll stay there until like 2 o’clock just working on his game. But it just shows his dedication, it shows the younger players how hard you have to work, the work ethic you need to stay in this league this long. And he played great tonight. If anything, it can help his confidence.”

Coming off the bench, playing fewer minutes has been a task Rose empathizes with.

"I would think that would be hard for anyone to, you’ve got to get used to it," Rose said. "His attitude didn’t change, he’s been a great teammate and that’s what you need. He’s been very professional about it, so I can’t say anything about it."

There’s only been one game where Noah has had that type of effect and it came in a loss, which was the lethargic overtime showing against the Minnesota Timberwolves, a contest in which the Bulls failed to show up.

[ALSO: Bulls defense holds up late against Spurs in win]

But in the others where his energy has been palpable, the Bulls have emerged on the winning side. Unfortunately those nights have come few and far between, and one can never tell which Noah will show up on a nightly basis.

“Of course it’s hard for him but he’s doing what it takes to win,” Butler said. “He’s showing what it takes for the whole team to be successful.”

Said Noah: “It’s been very frustrating at times but I’m blessed for this opportunity to play for the Chicago Bulls, I’m a passionate player, I get frustrated sometimes.”

And it would behoove all involved to find ways for nights like this to become more of the norm than exception.

Report: Bulls will sign Summer League standout Antonio Blakeney to two-year deal

blakeney.png
USA TODAY

Report: Bulls will sign Summer League standout Antonio Blakeney to two-year deal

Antonio Blakeney's past 12 months have landed him a permanent spot on the Bulls, according to Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania.

The signing comes as little surprise for a number of reasons, beginning with Blakeney's play.

He was named the G-League Rookie of the Year after averaging 32.0 points per game for the Windy City Bulls last season. He then fared well alonside Wendell Carter Jr. in the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 21.0 points on 40 percent shooting, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in five games.

Blakeney, playing on a two-way contract, had a cup of coffee with the Bulls in 2017, averaging 7.9 points on 37 percent shooting in 19 games. He scored a career-high 16 points on two different occasions.

He'll likely take the spot left vacant by wing David Nwaba, a player whose qualifying offer from the Bulls was rescinded in order to free up more cap space to sign Jabari Parker.

Blakeney will battle with Denzel Valentine, Justin Holiday and Chandler Hutchison for minutes on the second unit.

Jabari Parker defends Derrick Rose's legacy in introductory press conference: 'A legend, no matter what'

Jabari Parker defends Derrick Rose's legacy in introductory press conference: 'A legend, no matter what'

Chicago basketball is a brotherhood. Jabari Parker made that much clear during his introductory press conference on Wednesday at the United Center atrium.

When asked by a reporter about what the Chicago native and Simeon alum thought about the "rise and fall" of Derrick Rose's NBA career, Parker took a hard stance defending the former league MVP.

"Derrick had no lows. He didn't, because he still maintained. Derrick is a legend, no matter. I don't like how you explained that," Parker said.

"Injuries is a part of life. Everybody has an injury, either athletics or normal life. But Derrick is one of the best players to ever play the game and one of the best icons in Chicago. So, he accomplished his duty already."

Parker and Rose have more than just Simeon basketball and a Chicago upbringing in common. Both suffered multiple knee injuries early in their careers - Rose's infamous ACL tear in the 2012 playoffs and subsequent MCL tears; Parker tore his ACL in both his rookie and third NBA seasons with the Bucks. - and battled back through them.

And now they both have ties to the Bulls.

Last week Parker agreed to a two-year, $40 million deal with his hometown team. He'll join a young core including Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Wendell Carter Jr. as the Bulls enter Year 2 of their rebuild.

Parker wasn't the only one to stick up for Rose.