Scuttlebutt in the Minnesota Timberwolves camp has it that they're balking at signing Joakim Noah in the wake of the team's general manager, Tom Thibodeau, opting for free agent Luol Deng instead.
That's the rumor being circulated by New York Times sports reporter Marc Stein, who tweeted on Wednesday that the Timberwolves had no plans to go after Knicks center Joachim Noah. Stories circulating around the Knicks office indicate that Noah, whose career has been riddled with injuries, may not be with the team for much longer. Noah still has two years left on a $72 million contract, but the Knicks are hoping to get some value out of the player before he hits free agency.
"Even the Wolves acknowledge hearing the 'Timberbulls' chatter," tweeted Stein, "but word is they have no current plans to pursue Joakim Noah should Noah part ways with the Knicks in the near future as expected."
The acquisition of Deng, as well as former Bulls players Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Derrick Rose, has created a stir among Minnesota fans and various NBA wags, who've taken to calling the team the TimberBulls. Thibodeau is hoping that the chemistry of veterans from his former team manifests itself on the court and he has little reason to doubt that will happen.
As for former Bulls player Noah, a trade with the Timberwolves would have been one way for New York to save face, but if the deal is officially scuttled, the Knicks might opt for a waive-and-stretch provision. The Knicks could buy out the rest of Noah's contract and stretch it out for up to five years to provide additional room on the team's salary cap. In his three years with the team, Noah played in only 82 games. Much of his absence was due to knee surgery in February 2017 and the last season saw Noah play only seven games before being relegated to the sidelines.
Deng, who was the highest-paid player on the Los Angeles Lakers roster, but only played one game last season, signed a one-year contract with Minnesota for reportedly $2.4 million. Five years ago, he had previously played for Thibodeau for three seasons when the coach was helming the Chicago Bulls.
As for other ex-Bulls who suited up when Thibodeau was the coach, Butler became an All-Star during his first season with the Timberwolves, while Gibson quickly developed into a proven starter. The Timberwolves managed to make the playoffs in 2018, but were taken out of contention by the Houston Rockets.
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