Bulls

What's next for Joakim Noah, Bulls after season-ending shoulder surgery

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What's next for Joakim Noah, Bulls after season-ending shoulder surgery

Joakim Noah tipped once, then twice before yelling out in joy as he converted on a Jimmy Butler miss in the third quarter of a rousing Bulls comeback in Philadelphia, as they recovered from being down 24 for a win.

The next night, he yelled out in agony as his left shoulder popped out again after being tangled with JaVale McGee in the second quarter, with expletives not far behind, running to the locker room.

Surgery isn’t far behind now, as Noah will undergo a procedure to repair the dislocated shoulder, ending his season and possibly career with the Bulls as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The official prognosis is 4-6 months, the same timeline for Kevin Love last spring and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist this season, which effectively ends Noah’s uneven, disappointing '15-16 year.

Noah had a few glimpses of being the impact player he’s been in years past, but with his role being diminished under Fred Hoiberg, he averaged a career-low in scoring with 4.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 22 games.

But his value always went beyond the numbers, as his intangibles had a tangible affect on his teammates for seasons on end.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“Seeing him on the table like that, kinda got flashback to when Derrick got hurt,” forward Taj Gibson said. “You don’t want to see your man go down like that. It is frustrating.”

Gibson was referring to Rose’s ACL tear in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs, the first serious injury that started Rose down this path and squandered what was then considered a strong chance at a title.

And in the years since, Noah’s body began breaking down, culminating in his big blow.

Now it leaves the Bulls franchise in a position where they possibly had one good big too many to needing every single one if they hope to make a decent run through the postseason.

They had been gauging interest around the league on Noah, Pau Gasol and Gibson, according to league sources. According to an executive for a Western Conference team, the Bulls had been most aggressive with Gibson, who’s settled in at power forward and has an affordable contract ($8.5 million this season, $8.95 million in 16-17).

[MORE: Noah's injury produces somber tones for teammates]

They had been looking for a swingman but hadn’t received much traction, as trade activity league-wide has been down this season — as well as the lack of quality wings on the market as a whole.

Now, with Noah’s injury, only time will tell how the Bulls prioritize their personnel needs a month before the trade deadline.

But Noah’s priorities have to shift, for the first time in his career, from the Bulls’ needs to his own.

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

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USA TODAY

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

The theme of the 2018-19 NBA season will be: “old faces in new places”. Like a season-long game of the NBA on TNT crew’s “Who he play for?” game, this year will be about fans trying to get used to the idea of LeBron James in purple (I won’t call it ‘Forum Blue’)-and-gold, DeMarcus Cousins being on a championship-contending franchise and Kawhi Leonard being the new face of Toronto.

The Warriors are still the easy favorite to make it four NBA championships in five years, but they will be tested perhaps more than any year before in a loaded Western Conference, where even the lowliest of teams (here’s to you Phoenix and Memphis!) made solid offseason moves geared towards winning games.

Over in the now-LeBron-less East, there is hope amongst at least four-to-five teams that they could actually have a shot to win the conference. The Pacers still have budding superstar Victor Oladipo, the Sixers still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Raptors and Bucks made head coaching changes that could lead to deep playoff runs. But with the rest of the Eastern conference being stuck between lottery contention and middle of the pack, expect the half-experienced, half-youthful Celtics to takeover as East juggernaut.

But whether or not your favorite franchise is aiming for a high draft pick or a postseason berth, there is tons to be excited in a 2018-19 NBA season that will surely be an intriguing one. Check out Week 1 of our NBA Power Rankings right here.

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

Deadline passes as Bulls, Bobby Portis fail to reach agreement on contract extension

The Bulls and Bobby Portis were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension by today’s deadline, which will make the power forward a restricted free agent next offseason.

According to The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, Portis’ agent Mark Bartelstein and Gar Forman had “lengthy face-to-face negotiations” on Monday prior to the deadline. The two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement.

The negotiations – and lack of a deal – come after a summer and training camp in which Portis continued to show progression. After beginning the preseason coming off the bench Portis quickly played his way into the starting lineup alongside rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Portis finished five preseason games averaging 17.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals in just 22.4 minutes.

Portis, the 22nd pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, has seen his role increase each of his three seasons. He made a jump last season in Year 3, averaging 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22.5 minutes. He was one of three players, including DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Love, to average 21 points, 10 rebounds and 1.5 3-pointers per 36 minutes.

Though the Bulls certainly had the room to sign Portis to an extension, there were obvious reasons on both sides to wait on a deal. For starters, the Bulls will still be able to match any deal Portis receives in free agency next July, much like what happened with Zach LaVine and the Sacramento Kings. The Bulls maintain their abundance of cap space for the 2019 offseason, when they’ll be able to offer a max contract to the top-tier free agents, and they get to see if Portis makes another jump.

For Portis, it’s a case of him betting on himself. If the Bulls came in with a number he wasn’t satisfied with – to help keep their max cap space – he now finds himself on a contract year playing for his next contract. Still only 23 years old, Portis should cash in in July.

Two players from Portis’ draft class were able to cash in. Pacers center Myles Turner signed a reported four-year, $80 million extension and Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. agreed to a four-year, $45 million deal. Portis likely would have fallen somewhere in between those two deals had an agreement occurred.

The Bulls are hardly in an easy situation with Portis. Though they value the versatile power forward, Lauri Markkanen is entrenched at the position for the foreseeable future and the team just spent last year’s No. 7 overall pick on center Wendell Carter Jr. Portis realistically is stuck behind both those players, though he certainly has starting level NBA talent.