Post-game Reactions

It’s tough being the Chicago Bulls’ front office lately.  Despite having a solid offseason by plundering the Utah Jazz for two useful players and a semi-superstar (Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, and Carlos Boozer) they now find themselves in a bit of a pickle regarding Joakim Noah.  The mercurial center is undoubtedly productive.  He provides energy, hustle, points, rebounds, and headaches for opposing teams.  Lately, however, the Bulls’ suits are feeling the pain.

It’s been reported that the Chicago Bulls are interested in acquiring Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets.  Unfortunately, the Nuggets would like a young asset in return- namely Joakim Noah.  The Bulls are reluctant to give up a player with so much potential.  I understand their dilemma.  Carmelo Anthony is a superstar but Joakim Noah plays a role that most teams would covet.  He is a defensive minded center that has an unstoppable motor.  He also has the potential to be great.

What makes their decision even more difficult is that even if they decide they want to keep Noah no matter what, that “no matter what” may end up costing the Bulls 13 million dollars.  Noah is currently in line for a contract extension and right now the negotiations are not close.  The Bulls front office feel Noah is worth 57 million while Noah feels he’s more in the ballpark of 65-70 million dollars, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com.

The real question becomes, “is Joakim Noah really worth 70 million dollars? Is he even worth 65 million dollars?”  Noah is a productive player but to me, no hustle player/ third banana is worth 14 million dollars a year.  14 million dollars is the type of money a proven star earns.  Noah may have the potential to become a dominant post presence in this league, but I would not be comfortable giving him that kind of money.

This all brings me to my larger point.  Why would I spend 300 words discussing Joakim Noah’s contract negotiations?

The answer, my friends, is to remind everyone about just how awesome Danny Ainge is.  Sentence-ending verbs aside, it was nearly one year ago when Ainge locked up a young, budding superstar in Rajon Rondo for a measly 55 million dollars.

Just imagine how the contract negotiations would go this year if Ainge and Rondo had not reached an agreement.  The Celtics did not sign anyone this offseason that did not involve some sort of exception (Bird, Semi-Bird, Veteran’s minimum, Mid-level) so the raw numbers may not have affected the this year’s offseason signings.  That said, it certainly would have affected the salary cap in 2012 when the majority of Celtics’ roster comes off the books.

Rajon Rondo is clearly worth more than Joakim Noah and should be paid as such one way or the other.  Since Rondo has already signed his contract there is no way Noah should get 70 million.  Luckily for the C’s, this is not something with which they have to concern themselves.  They can just sit there and pat themselves on the back knowing that they signed Rajon Rondo for way less money than he is worth.

Just for fun, let’s look at the numbers that are not skewed by position.  Last season, Rajon Rondo had a player efficiency rating of 20.5.  Noah’s was 17.8.  Rondo averaged 14 points per game while Noah chipped in 11.  The only number Noah has in his favor is his long-two shooting percentage (33% for Rondo, 43% for Noah), which is admittedly pretty sad when you consider their respective positions on the court.*

There is really no contest.  Next time you hear any criticism of Danny Ainge, think of the Rajon Rondo signing to put things in prospective.

* All player stats are courtesy of HoopData.com.

**As a bonus, Andray Blatche just recently agreed to a five year, 28 million dollar contract.  Attitude aside, his production is worth way more than 5.6 million dollars a year. If you do not believe me, check out the numbers.

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  • curt

    Rondo and Noah are similar players in a way. Both are great athletes for their position, both are limited offensively, both are terrific leaders through their non-stop motors. I’ll take them both!

  • Jeremy Hand

    Rondo’s deal is great for the Celtics, but Perk’s soon-to-expire deal has treated the franchise quite nicely as well…

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    danny is a great gm with a killer instinct. perk and baby’s agents should be very nervous right now…. danny never loses.

    but i’m not so sure about “Rajon Rondo is clearly worth more than Joakim Noah”. i love them both and bigs like that don’t grow on trees. @curt nails it, they are both winners. noah is going to get rings before he’s done….no question. that steal on pierce a couple years ago was epic….thats a guy u want on your side in crunch time. they should have locked him up last year….but if krause plays cheapskate and the bulls trade him for melo, thats one less team the celtics need to worry about for the next few years. i don’t see it happening though.

    and let me ask it another way….. perk OR noah? who would you take?

    forget the heat….so looking forward to the celtics-bulls battles this year….going to be great basketball and a heated rivalry!!

  • What, you’re not going to mention how Noah shot 74 percent from the line compared to 62 percent for Rondo? Seems relevant.

    But in all seriousness, Noah is one of the best rebounders in the game, and he’s the centerpiece and heart of Chicago’s defense. I imagine he will become the anchor of Thibodeau’s defensive schemes, much like KG was in Boston. His importance in this role is magnified because players like Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer need a big man backing them up to clean up their defensive mistakes.

    I’m not sure how you could compare Noah’s worth relative to Rondo without mentioning these facts. He has both statistical worth (fantastic rebounder/shot blocker) and situational worth (defensive achor) to the Bulls.

  • By the way, that’s not me saying Jo is worth $14 mil per. I’m just saying that the comparison wasn’t really hitting some of the cogent points.

  • Brendan Jackson

    Hi Matt,

    The only point of this post was to give Danny Ainge some props. I like Joakim Noah, but as for comparing the relative worth of Joakim Noah and Rajon Rondo, it’s not even close. When you add up intangibles, talent, numbers, and their importance to their respected teams, Rondo is the clear winner.

    Among starting point guards last season, Rondo led the league in field goal percentage and steals, and ranked fourth in both assists and rebounds.

    Among starting Centers, Noah ranked 13th in field goal percentage, third in rebounds, eighth in assists, tied for seventh in steals and blocks, and 17th in points.

    (all of these stats are “per game” and where provided by hoopdata.com).

    Last year, there was no alternative to Rajon Rondo and the Celtics used a mixed bag of Marquis Daniels, Ray Allen, Tony Allen, and Nate Robinson to cover for Rondo when he was out of the game. Brad Miller started 37 games at center last season (Noah’s foot injury I assume?) and the Bulls were 4-14. This record is probably the best argument for Noah’s value but I imagine other factors were involved with these losses.

    None of this was meant to disparage Joakim Noah (well, maybe his contract demands) but the numbers are the numbers. Rajon Rondo has solidifed himself as one of the best point guards in the game and Joakim Noah still has a ways to go.

    Potential really doesn’t mean anything unless discussed retrospectively. The following is an example of what I am talking about: “…he will become the anchor of Thibodeau’s defensive schemes”. “Will become” is different from fact, despite how foregone it may appear.

    Noah also only played in 64 games last year and may have ranked higher had he played a full season but the bottom line is that he didn’t.

    Again, none of this was meant to disparage Joakim Noah who is a great player, but the jury is out on whether he can be really great and he definitely is not 14 million dollars-a-year great right now.

  • cmoney

    “Rajon Rondo is clearly worth more than Joakim Noah and should be paid as such one way or the other. Since Rondo has already signed his contract there is no way Noah should get 70 million. ”

    That’s not the way it works. Worth isn’t retroactive. Worth isn’t determined in a vacuum. It’s determined by the market at the time of signing. Frankly, Rondo probably cost himself money. That shouldn’t concern Noah in his negotiations, though. He’s very valuable and plays a position that has scarce resources. He should be going for top dollar.

    Factoring how good Noah is, with is position, with his age, somewhere in the 12-14M/yr range seems very fair to me.

  • K.C.

    Noah’s worth maybe 10 million a year.

  • bobo

    I bet Rondo value has decreased with gm’s and owners after he left the international team…whether it was his choice for leaving or not,some viewed it in a negative light.Rondo made the correct deal when it presented itself.Jokiam’s value will be determined when its closer to his time to sign.Its expected of him to add a consistent offensive game to his game to be in the position to get top money come contract time.Both players are still developing.The next time Rondo is up for contract negotiations,it will be expected of him to have added a few offensive parts to his game,such as a decent jumper,and shooting free throws with a decent percentage.

  • Jeff

    I understand the arguments of both sides in the discussion, however the article was intended to give Danny props, and he deserves MAJOR props.

    Rondo chose to do a deal before his contract was up. He also had questions surrounding his play and whether he would sustain his play from the playoff’s the year before. Also whether his supposed “attitude” would interfere with his development.

    If Rondo had a bad year last year, everyone would have bashed Danny for it.

    If Danny risked not doing the deal mid season Rondo probably would have been getting max contract offers from NY or someone.

    Since Rondo was unconcious last season, and has shown that he is a top flight PG and not just a fluke one season wonder, now it’s a steal.

    As for Noah, good player with a defensive mind who does the dirty work and has a mean streak in him. He’s also a winner. I remember watching him at FLA when they won the championship and thinking that he was going to be real good.

    But…if the top Center’s in the league are Howard, Bogut, Gasol, Yao (maybe), Bynum, or whoever, and the top pay for those guys is around the $14-$16 mil range…then sorry Jo, but you’re only worth about half of Dwight, Bogut or Gasol.

    Although Haywood got $55 and Gooden $35 and Darko got $16 soooo….I guess it depends on how dumb your team is!

    If Jo thinks he can get $70 mil, let him try and let his agent advertise as such, but if I’m a GM I’d offer him $8 mil a year and that’s where my offer ends.

    I also wouldn’t mind Kaman actually. (totally random I know)

    Also, I’f I’m Boozer or Amare, I’d be kind of insulted because they just got deals in the $14-$16 range and now this dude’s asking for the same kind of money LOL! And he isn’t that good.

    He’ll get $10-$12 though.

  • I love Green

    Okay guys. Onto the important stuff…


    Please someone give me a link or something

  • I love Green

    Ahh crap. Celtics don’t have any online streams of it. Im ticked.

  • cos

    I guess Im late to this post but here’s something interesting…

    I did a quick word search for “Perkins”, “Kendrick”, and “Perk”

    Other than the poll question on the right and a couple of posters mentioning Perk’s defense vs Noahs, not one person here mentions Noah and his contract to the most obvious discussion relating to Perkins.

    Namely, Perk’s due for an extension. Whatever Noah gets (like it or not) is going to have some effect on Perk’s asking price. 2 finals appearances, 1 ring, 1 major knee surgery, and a couple of shoulder injuries (with at least 1 surgery), while Noah hasn’t had any of those. I’m actually excited to hear what Noah gets as its going to be referenced when Perkins and his agent discuss and extension. We might not hear Noah’s name in the discussion, but it’s definitely going to get highlighted.

    More importantly, how am I the first person on this post to mention this?

  • I don’t see how Noah’s contract is going to influence Perk’s contract situation. I hate to say it, but if Perk has a setback and can’t come back this year, he may be looking at a veteran minimum deal next year.

  • JP

    If the bulls have to give up Noah for Melo, I would think you would do it. Melo is still coming into his own and he is already one of the top players in the league. The bulls struggled on offense last year, and although they have better options this year with Boozer and Korver, adding Anthony would make their offense terrifying. Also, Melo is someone who can match up well, and even win the match up against the Paul Pierce, LBJ type players. Noah is a great role player, but Melo is a super duper star, and he would be a big help to the Bulls especially during crunch time, when they need scores and stops.

  • Rangatiratanga

    I understand both sides of the coin here but Noah is not worth anywhere near $70 mil.You can argue all day whose better,Rondo or Noah but the point here is that both players are very similar and offer similar qualitites,assets to their respective teams,but Noah should not be getting (or asking for that matter) for a $70 million contract extension when Rondo’s on $55 mil.
    On a sidenote i wouldn’t trade Noah for Melo.The Bulls can’t afford to give up a player like Noah if they want to make the playoffs.

  • Ouvert

    Brendan – good point. Not sure we need to try comparing Rondo’s skills to Noah’s, but the situation Chicago faces is clearly relevant. How much happier would Chicago be if they’d wrapped up Noah to a long extension last year at, say 45-55 mill? Much happier.

  • Rafael

    Obviously, this post goal was to give a pat in the back to Danny Ainge. Don’t get me wrong it’s a very well deserved pat in the back, Rondo for that much is a steal.
    The thing I don’t quite agree with you, though, is the way you go about evaluating Noah’s value. For one, if Rondo had set in his mind that he was worth 70m, do you really think he wouldn’t get a 70m contract from someone, considering he would have joined the 2010 class? In hindsight, after googling about Rondo’s extension, LaMarcus Aldridge got a 65m/5y extension.
    Now, is LaMarcus Aldridge that much superior to Noah? You’re basically trading offensive moves and FT% for rebounding and defense. And by signing Boozer, they basically tied their hands quite a bit, since big men with that kind of defensive awareness don’t exactly grow in trees.
    Last, but not least, there is a shortage of quality centers. Think about it, would you rather take the 30th best point guard, or the 30th best center in the league? We all have our own opinions, but yahoo writer Kelly Dwyer’s for example, it’s Kyle Lowry vs Mehmet Okur. There just isn’t that many quality centers, let alone young ones

  • edward

    “When you add up intangibles, talent, numbers, and their importance to their respected teams, Rondo is the clear winner.”

    How do you add up intangibles? It doesn’t even mean anything.

    Btw, good job doing an analysis of comparative worth without even considering the difficulty/cost of replacement. In case you haven’t heard there are less talented athletes close to 7 feet than 6.

  • Yes indeed give many thanks God Lauryn is back really

  • I've never seen a player have so many efforts that are just out of his reach. His rgaming strategy is excellent and He gets too far underneath the basket to be in effective game.