DEERFIELD, Ill. — Chicago center Joakim Noah inadvertently painted a target on his back last spring during the Bulls-Cavaliers first-round series in the Eastern Conference playoffs with some throwaway remarks about Cleveland.
He didn’t say anything similarly snide about Miami Monday. Either the city or its newly constructed, superstar-laden, widely criticized basketball team. Quite the opposite.
“There’s just been so much talk this offseason,” Noah told media at the Bulls’ Media Day. “I just feel like all we’ve been doing is talking. I’m really ready to go out there and play. Who knows what that’s going to look like? Who knows what D-Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron is going to look like?
“Me personally, I think it’s going to be pretty good. So our mindset has to be, be the best that we can be and then see if we can compete with those guys. Who knows? Is it going to be good? Is it going to be bad? I know a lot of people want it to be bad because it could also be very, very scary.”
People who question the Heat’s ability to instantly create a championship-caliber team, Noah said, forget that plenty of teams have made significant changes this offseason. Chicago included.
“Can we compete with those guys? I hope so,” said the 6-foot-11 center, who averaged 10.7 points and 11.0 rebounds in his third season. “I think we have the potential to. But there’s a lot of question marks about this team right now. we have a new coach, we have a lot of new players. The same things that people are saying negative things about Miami, we have very similar issues.
“Are we going to be able to gel together? Things like that are things that people tend to say, ‘Oh, the Bulls have all figured out. But Miami doesn’t.’ There’s a lot of talking. Let’s go out there and play and see what happens.”
Noah, addressing trade speculation that had him among possible packages for Denver’s Carmelo Anthony, said he was happy to still be in Chicago. He declined to comment on talks with Bulls management about a contract extension, which can be negotiated until Oct. 31.