Bulls

From Bulls to Knicks, Joakim Noah agrees it was time for change

From Bulls to Knicks, Joakim Noah agrees it was time for change

The pain was audible and the atrophy was visible when Joakim Noah’s shoulder came out of his socket in early January last season, ending his last year with the Bulls.

Deep down, it was possible he knew it was the end, and he knew it was time.

“I think it was time for change,” said Noah after the New York Knicks’ shootaround Friday morning at the United Center. “There’s no question about that. It seems like (The Bulls) is a happy group. They enjoy being around one another. That’s good.”

It wasn’t lost on Noah the fact that he and Derrick Rose’s return to Chicago took place on the same day as the Chicago Cubs’ parade after 108 years of futility.

“It’s a little different, a little different,” Noah said. “I see the people in Chicago are in a good mood today for a lot of reasons. It’s an exciting time in Chicago right now.”

Having signed with the Knicks for $72 million this past offseason, he’s talked to Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott in recent days in anticipation for his first game against the team that drafted him in 2007.

“I wish everybody well,” Noah said. “I’m not here wanting the Bulls to lose or anything like that. Just tonight though.”

Having mixed emotions is expected for a longtime former staple, but the reaction from the Bulls crowd will likely be one of appreciation as opposed to anything else. A new father having a new team, the emotions will likely hit the emotional player at some point Friday.

“That’s what battling is all about,” Noah said. “I know I fought really hard in this building every time I put on that Bulls uniform, and that means a lot to me. I have no regrets. It was a special time in my life.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Noah’s last season in Chicago was a forgettable one for a number of reasons. Not being on the same page with Fred Hoiberg about his benching early in the season set a bad tone for Hoiberg’s credibility, and Noah battled shoulder injuries and struggled in his new role of coming off the bench in his 29 games.

“I look back on it and I was definitely frustrated. There was definitely a lot of adversity going on there,” Noah said. “Now I can look back at it and see where things went wrong. It’s not about blaming one person. Everybody in that locker room is good people. It’s just shit happens. It’s a locker room. At the end of the day, the things I remember the most are good memories from everybody. I have no hard feelings towards anybody.”

When asked to elaborate on what went wrong, Noah was slightly bemused as opposed to agitated, and stated the obvious.

“S**t, come on man. Please. It went wrong,” he said. “We didn’t make the playoffs. Everyone was disappointed. It was a team that had high expectations. You guys know where it went wrong. You guys were there every day. Right now, I’m just happy to be on the court. It’s a blessing to play basketball again.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

dunn-stl-pod.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: A sprained MCL and Trubisky's performance. vs the Pats

David Haugh, Jordan Cornette, Shae Peppler join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00- Mark Schanowski joins SportsTalk Live to discuss Kris Dunn’s sprained MCL, Fred Hoiberg’s tough luck and Zach LaVine postgame criticisms of the coaching. Plus they’ll discuss another 0-3 team- LeBron’s Lakers.

20:00 – The panel discusses Mitchell Trubisky’s performance vs. the Patriots. Jordan makes the case that the media is giving the former No. 2 pick a pass.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

Subscribe:

Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

kemba.jpg
USA TODAY

Bulls bracing for a Kemba Walker onslaught

Through the opening week of the NBA season, Hornets' All-Star point guard Kemba Walker and former Bull Niko Mirotic share the league scoring lead, averaging 33 points per game.

Bulls' fans have seen these hot stretches from Niko before, and chances are he'll start moving down to the mid to high-teens before long. But Walker is a big-time scorer who's quietly emerged as one of the most consistently productive point guards in a league loaded with stars at that position. He's averaged over 20 points and 5 assists in each of the last three seasons, making the Eastern Conference All-Star team twice.

Last season, Walker lit up the Bulls for 47 points in an overtime loss at the United Center in November, making some of the most difficult shots you can imagine to keep his team in the game. He seems to be as this best when facing the Bulls and you can bet Fred Hoiberg and his staff will pull out all the stops to try to slow him down, especially with defensive ace Kris Dunn out 4-6 weeks after suffering a sprained left MCL in his season debut on Monday.

The Hornets made some personnel changes since last season. The one-year experiment with Dwight Howard at center is over. Howard put up solid numbers for Charlotte a year ago, but didn't make much difference in the win-loss column, so he's moved on to Washington in his NBA odyssey. Cody Zeller is now the starting center, backed up by Bismack Biyombo and former Benet Academy and University of Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky.

Charlotte tried to improve the athleticism on their roster by selecting Malik Monk and Miles Bridges in the first rounds of the last two drafts. Monk is getting more playing time this season, averaging 13.5 points in the Hornets' first four games. Bridges is averaging just under 16 minutes a game as a backup to starting forwards Marvin Williams and Nic Batum. Just like he did at Michigan State, Bridges is providing those highlight reel putback dunks, but it remains to be seen whether he'll develop a consistent enough outside shot to be a quality starter in the NBA.

The well-traveled Jeremy Lamb is now starting in the backcourt with Walker, and the Hornets brought in long-time Spurs' point guard Tony Parker to add some much needed experience and veteran savvy off the bench. Given the current state of the Eastern Conference (post-LeBron), it's not out of the question for this group to contend for one of the final playoff spots.

Here's what the Bulls need to do for a shot at their first win of the season. This also applies to the rematch in Charlotte on Friday.

1. CORRAL KEMBA. For whatever reason, seeing that Bulls' logo turns Walker into an almost unstoppable scoring machine. Walker is adept at working off his big men, either in straight pick and rolls or cutting through the post on give-and-go plays. He's one of the league's most creative scorers, and doesn't require much room to get his shot off. The Bulls' bigs will have to provide help on Walker whenever he comes off screens to keep him from taking over the game.

2. PUT THE BALL IN ZACH'S HANDS. Whether he's playing shooting guard or point guard, Zach LaVine needs to be the primary facilitator with Dunn sidelined. LaVine scored 34 points against Dallas Monday night on just 15 shots, which led to him questioning some of the offensive sets that were run in the 2nd half. LaVine told reporters on Tuesday that he smoothed things over with his head coach, explaining his comments were the result of the frustration he was feeling after a third-straight loss to open the season. Still, LaVine is on a major hot streak, joining Bulls' all-time greats Michael Jordan and Bob Love as the only players to start the year with three straight games scoring at least 30 points. The Bulls will need to ride that hot hand for as far as LaVine can carry them.

3. DEFEND THE 3-POINT LINE. You knew I would eventually get to this, right? Dallas made 15 of 47 3-point attempts on Monday after the Pistons knocked down 18 of 40 in a two-point win last Saturday. The Hornets have all kinds of capable 3-point shooters in Walker, Lamb, Monk, Batum and Williams (they're shooting .397 as a team on 3's), so guarding the arc will be crucial for the Bulls to have a chance at their first win.

Don’t forget you can catch Wednesday's game on NBC Sports Chicago and the new MyTeams by NBC sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 pm when Kendall Gill, Will Perdue and Kelly Crull join me for Bulls Pregame Live from the United Center Atrium. Neil Funk and Stacey King have the play-by-play call at 7 pm, then stay tuned after the final buzzer for Bulls Postgame Live and the always entertaining Bulls Outsiders.