Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
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NBA Rumors: Bulls May Favor Joakhim Noah Over Pau Gasol In Free Agency

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls are a mess. The once-dominant NBA franchise has gone from a potential perennial title contender to out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference in one year’s time.

Along with missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the Bulls brass have a lot of tough decisions to make during the NBA offseason. The team’s top two players in the frontcourt will be headed for NBA free agency come July.

Pau Gasol will opt out of his contract with the Bulls and in all likelihood will leave the team. Joakim Noah is coming off another serious injury and was thought to be done in Chicago as well, but now it seems he could stick around a little while longer, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune:

And the biggest reason Pau Gasol and the Bulls appear headed for a split in free agency has less to do with Gasol and more to do with Joakim Noah.

Though front-office meetings have yet to finalize the Bulls’ Plan A for this offseason, there is strong internal desire to re-sign Noah on a short-term deal. Noah long has been a favorite player and ambassador of Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Executive vice president John Paxson drafted Noah, and their bond is genuine.

Gasol will turn 36 only a few days after free agency opens in July, but despite his age, the two-time NBA champion is still playing at a very high level. The former Los Angeles Lakers forward has earned All-Star honors in both seasons he’s played in Chicago and appears to have something left in the tank.

As for Noah, the longtime Bulls center has been on the decline over the past few years with injuries becoming a major issue for the veteran. Noah will be the easier player of the two to convince to stay, and all signs are now pointing to the Florida product staying and Gasol heading for greener pastures.

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