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Joakim Noah admits expectations of big contract got to him

Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls runs up the floor after scoring against the Washington Wizards during the second half at Verizon Center on January 30, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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Joakim Noah is making a lot of money this year — $12 million.

It’s the first year of the extension to his rookie deal he signed last year, meaning he has gone from making what you and I think is a lot of money to making what other NBA players think is a lot of money.

Noah struggled out of the gate this season for the Bulls, his shooting was off and he just seemed hesitant and a step slow on defense and to loose balls. For a guy whose game was all about passion and working harder than you, it was noticeable.

Noah admitted to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune that the slow start and the contract were linked.

“Yeah, no question, I thought about that,” Noah said. “Sometimes you feel like because you’re given so much money you’re expected to do things. That’s not the right mentality to have as a player.

“I have to play my game. I have to have fun out there. If I don’t, I’m not the same player.”

Noah is talking about it now because he put this slow start behind him — he’s had double-doubles the last five games and has his trademark energy back. Something the Bulls need if they are going to be serious contenders this year.