CHICAGO -- Have members of the Chicago Bulls brain trust had general, internal conversations about the possibility of including Joakim Noah in a trade for Denver’s Carmelo Anthony? Sure, because they would be crazy not to at least bounce the idea around when it comes to adding a bona fide Top 10 player. The Bulls desperately want to get better, and they have to at least consider all the options.
But as ESPNChicago.com reported Thursday, while general discussions have taken place, a team source said Noah will not be dealt.
The Bulls consider the emotional center to be a cornerstone for their franchise. To put it another way, Derrick Rose is untouchable -- obviously. And while Noah may not be that bulletproof, the gap between him and Rose, as far as a potential trade goes, isn't as far as the casual fan may think.
The general consensus is that the Bulls feel like they are much closer to a title with Noah than they are without him. As I discussed on Thursday, are the Bulls really that much closer to a title if they add Anthony, but lose Noah, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson in the process? I don't think so.
Noah is turning into one of the best centers in the league, and he provides the Bulls with the type of consistent inside presence they haven't had in many years. If he stays healthy this season, many people believe -- myself included -- that he will become an All-Star. He's the type of presence the Bulls will need to go up against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic for years to come. Not to mention the Lakers with Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom; the Celtics with Kevin Garnett and the Heat with Chris Bosh and company. Without Noah, the Bulls would be putting a lot of faith into Turkish rookie Omer Asik, and while he has shown some promise in early workouts and during the world championships, I don't think that is a move they feel comfortable making right now.
The move the Bulls want to make is the same one Noah wants himself: A contract extension that will keep the 25-year-old in Chicago for a long time to come.
Make no mistake, Noah wants to stay in Chicago. He loves the city, he loves the fans and he loves playing here. He told me last month that his agent Donald Dell has started working on the parameters of an extension with Bulls GM Gar Forman. He is proud of what the Bulls have started to build, and he wants to see it through until the end.
Like everybody else, he understands that the NBA is a business. He hears the rumors, and he even admitted there was a time he thought he might get dealt earlier in the summer in a potential sign-and-trade for one of the marquee free agents on the market. Noah knows he may not be in Chicago forever, but this is where he would like to be. The good news for the big man is that despite the speculation of the past few days, in the end, I think the Bulls feel the same way.