Report: Joakim Noah unhappy with Fred Hoiberg, role on Bulls

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Joakim Noah clearly wants to start for the Bulls. Even when Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg suggested coming off the bench was Noah’s idea, the center denied it.

So, nearly halfway through the season and still a reserve, Noah apparently isn’t pleased.

Joe Cowley of Chicago Sun-Times:

A source said on Tuesday morning that Noah remains unhappy with his current standing in the organization, and “still hasn’t moved past losing his starting job’’ late in training camp. The source went onto say that Noah “hasn’t been a distraction by any means, but isn’t the biggest [coach Fred] Hoiberg fan these days.’’

As if Hoiberg needs another Bulls veteran unhappy with him. Jimmy Butler previously publicly criticized Hoiberg. But Butler and Hoiberg appeared to reach an understanding, and Chicago recently went on a six-game winning streak.

Now, the Bulls have dropped three straight, including both games since Noah returned from injury. So, displeasure is going to come to the surface. Winning cures all ills.

Playing time helps, too. Chicago has too many bigs – including Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis – to satisfy everyone. That’s part of the reason Noah and Gibson are reportedly on the trade block. At least Gibson has a starting in the interim. Noah faces limited minutes and the prospect of entering free agency this summer at age 31 and limited contributions in the prior season.

Credit Noah for continuing to play hard and, by all accounts, act professionally despite his unhappiness. I’m barely concerned about how he’s handling this difficult situation.

The bigger worry is his displeasure spreading throughout the team.

The Bulls, despite what they thought at the time of his firing, are clearly suffering from some Tom Thibodeau withdrawal. That’s only natural when a team dumps a successful coach for an unproven one who doesn’t immediately and overwhelmingly impress.

Chicago doesn’t need players finding more reasons – like piggybacking on Noah – to second-guess Hoiberg. His job is hard enough already.