Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah: Bill Simmons argued on our recent podcast that Noah has played so well, he might be the favorite for the center spot on the first All-NBA team this season.
Remember: The All-Star Game has done away with the traditional center designation, but it remains on the All-NBA ballot. Marc Gasol has missed 23 games, Roy Hibbert has fallen off a bit in the last month, Brook Lopez is long gone, Andre Drummond is still learning, Tyson Chandler has fallen victim to the Knicks’ stench, Tim Duncan remains positionally amorphous, DeAndre Jordan is not quite All-NBA caliber, Bogut doesn’t have enough juice, Nikola Pekovic and Pau Gasol have missed time due to injury, and DeMarcus Cousins ain’t the most popular cat in the league.
That first team spot may come down to Noah and Dwight Howard, and the resolution will mean a ton to Chicago. Noah’s contract calls for a $500,000 bonus if he snags that first team spot. That would rocket Chicago over the tax for the second straight season, bringing the scary repeater specter into play down the line.
The signing of Jimmer Fredette for the remainder of the season cinched this potential outcome, but the Bulls were going to need to sign extra players continually until the end of the season to meet the league’s minimum roster requirements. They’ve already piled up some cap hits in that regard for Cartier Martin and Jarvis Varnado.
Noah is also due $250,000 if the Bulls win the championship, but that doesn’t appear to be quite enough on its own to take the Bulls over the tax. And even if it were, that’s the kind of bonus any team would happily pay.