Multiple reports indicated that former Bulls center Joakim Noah will join Derrick Rose and sign with the New York Knicks.
Both the Washington Post and ESPN report that Noah is very likely to sign in New York, his hometown. ESPN's Marc Stein went so far as to say that other teams have already accepted that Noah is all but a done deal to sign with the Knicks.
Have heard the same lament from multiple interested teams tonight: They see New York as a big favorite to land Joakim Noah in free agency.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 30, 2016
The phrasing tends to be the same from every team we ask with Joakim Noah interest: We don't have a chance because the Knicks are his choice— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 30, 2016
And according to Tim Bontemps from the Washington Post, Noah's deal with the Knicks will have "a starting salary somewhere in the $18 million per year range," a large but not insane number considering the league's salary cap explosion this summer.
The Vertical's Shams Charania added that Noah will meet with Phil Jackson and the Knicks when free agency begins Friday night.
Sources: Joakim Noah has set meeting with Knicks president Phil Jackson after midnight July 1. Significant traction on both sides.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 30, 2016
Noah would fill a void at center left by the Knicks' trade for Rose, which shipped center Robin Lopez back to Chicago. Noah averaged 4.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 29 games last season before season-ending shoulder surgery in January. Noah spent the first nine seasons of his NBA career with the Bulls and was named Defensive Player of the Year just three short years ago.
But he fell out of grace with Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg, who opted to bring Noah off the bench for the first time in his career. It was largely assumed that both Noah and Pau Gasol would not return to a Bulls team that missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
Teams can start negotiating with free agents on July 1, and can sign free agents beginning July 6.
The Bulls are undergoing a "retooling" in their backcourt after dealing Derrick Rose to the Knicks, drafting Denzel Valentine and attempting to re-sign E'Twaun Moore in free agency.
That, combined with Jimmy Butler, the addition of Jerian Grant and an already versatile frontcourt will give Fred Hoiberg plenty of options that Valentine believes will make the Bulls "dangerous" in 2016-17.
"I think that's going to make us so dangerous this year, is we are versatile with our guards," He said on Wednesday night's White Sox broadcast. "And in those three positions I feel like we're going to be able to guard and do a lot of things offensively and throw a lot at you when we're coming down on offense. And the defensive end, too.
"I think we're going to have a really good team this year with all that we have, and I'm glad to be part of the building year, or whatever you want to call it."
On paper the Bulls will have more versatility than a year ago. Valentine is capable of playing either wing position and can handle the ball, though he doesn't project as a point guard. Butler can play and defend four positions, and Grant is capable of playing either guard spot. Bringing back E'Twaun Moore would benefit that versatility greatly, as he's capable of playing on or off the ball.
In the frontcourt, the Bulls will need to replace Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, neither of whom provided much versatility. Robin Lopez is entrenched at center, which will give the Bulls' stretch forwards Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis more room to roam the perimeter.
Wherever Valentine plays, and however Hoiberg uses him in Year 1, the Michigan State rookie said he's ready to do what's asked of him from a franchise known for winning.
"My job is to just come in, do what I can do best and just work on my game and try to lead as best as I can," he said on SportsTalk Live (in the video above). "I'm not coming in to step on anybody's toes but I'm going to do what I can to lead and be a good teammate and try to win some games."
Count Denzel Valentine as 1-for-1 in a Bulls uniform.
The first-round pick threw out the first pitch prior to tonight's White Sox-Twins game and fired a strike to another young Chicago star, pitcher Carlos Rodon.
Check out Valentine's first pitch in the video above.