Sportress of Blogitude

Joakim Noah, Fred Hoiberg at odds over who decided star’s bench role

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Chicago Bulls first-year head coach Fred Hoiberg intimated earlier this week that Joakim Noah actually offered to come off the bench this season. The only problem with what Hoiberg said is Noah apparently doesn’t quite see it the same way.

The Bulls opened the season with Nikola Mirotic in the starting lineup with Noah riding the pine at the opening tip. When asked about the decision during a Q&A with Grantland’s Zach Lowe, Hoiberg said Noah actually approached him about it.

How was the conversation when you told Joakim he officially wasn’t going to start?

Jo actually came to me and talked to me about that. He said, basically, “I’ve always played well with Taj.” He said he thought Niko and Pau played very well together, so let’s go that route. It was actually Jo that started the whole conversation. He came to me. That says a lot about him.

Noah was asked about Hoiberg’s assertion during Friday’s shootaround ahead of the 2-0 Bulls’ tilt with the Detroit Pistons. It became clear that the longtime Bulls starter didn’t actually offer to cede his starting spot to Mirotic, although he’s also doesn’t seem keen on rocking the boat in any manner, a commendable stance.

As Friedell notes, Noah is in the final season of a five-year, $60 million deal, so his demotion to the bench arguably doesn’t bolster his negotiating position come next summer. Then again, the notion that being on the floor at the opening tip in an NBA game means a lot in the grand scheme of things actually matters little. So long as a player is getting quality minutes and is on the floor at critical moments of games makes them a far more valuable player than inferring their subjective importance based upon whether or not they’re among the starting five.

Either way, Noah deserves credit for being a team player, something that undoubtedly will pay dividends in some manner down the road.