Reports: Wizards among teams making a run at Joakim Noah, but not for max money

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If you had a DeLorean with a flux capacitor in the back and could go get the 2013-14 Joakim Noah, that guy — the Defensive Player of the Year — was worth a max contract. However, injuries the past two seasons had him missing 68 games over that span and when he did play he wasn’t near the same guy, having become an inefficient scorer and not moving the same way.

Noah will be leaving Chicago as a free agent and teams will come after him — he’s still an elite rebounder and is seen as a good influence in the locker room — but the question are how much money and how many years?

First came this report from Mitch Lawrence in The Sporting News.

According to sources, the Wiz are locked in on making a major offer to Joakim Noah. The Wizards are said to be willing to offer Noah, coming off shoulder surgery that KO’d him in January, a full maximum contract. His deal would start at $26.6 million and reach nearly $120 million over four seasons….

Three other teams — the Knicks, Timberwolves and Bucks — are also planning to make substantial offers to Noah, who played only 29 games last season before suffering a shoulder injury. If the Bulls come calling, he probably won’t even take their call. He has no intentions of re-signing in Chicago and is ready to move on, according to a source.

Max money and four years for a 31-year-old Noah? Exactly what kind of brownies do they have in the break room at the Wizards’ office? That can’t be correct, can it?

It’s not, says the well-connected J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com.

But the truth is, the Wizards, according to league sources, have never discussed a max offer for Noah, a 2013-14 NBA Defensive Player of the Year who has had decreasing value every year since and is coming off left shoulder surgery that put him on the shelf for 4-6 months….

First things first, the Wizards are interested in Noah. He’s 6-11 and has the IQ, toughness and passing ability of a Nene, who likely will leave as a free agent. That part has never been a secret as this team looked ahead to this summer. But Noah’s production has declined ever since he anchored Chicago’s defense to the playoffs — where they were upset in five games by the Wizards — and is coming off a significant surgery. Even when Noah, who earned $13.5 million last season in 29 games played, was healthy he wasn’t a max player. At 31, the returns aren’t getting any better. Noah is a good role player. Not a centerpiece.

Over the next week in the run-up to free agency, and then once it starts, rumors and reports are going to be flying all over the place. When you read an anonymous report, ask yourself, “Who benefits from that being public?” When sources talk off the record to reporters, they are often trying to sell them spin (as happens in politics and other areas of journalism), no information is unbiased. Welcome to the modern age of news reporting, where the reader needs to have his or her own filters in place.

No sane team would offer Noah a max, or anything close to it. Who would benefit from saying a team would do that? I don’t know Lawrence’s source or sources for this story, but it’s not a tough line to draw.

Noah is going to have interest from multiple teams, and in this cash-rich free agent summer, he’s still likely going to get a head-shaking contract. That’s the nature of the beast. But it’s not going to be for max money, and no reasonable team is going to give him four guaranteed years either (at least not without a steep discount from Noah).