- Nick Friedell, Chicago Bulls beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- Joakim Noah has always been a solid recruiter. He has the type of outgoing personality and charm that people usually gravitate toward. When he was at the University of Florida, former Gators football coach Urban Meyer repeatedly asked Noah to spend time with some recruits that came through Gainesville.
The happy-go-lucky center enjoys the role of pied piper -- which is why it should come as no surprise that Noah reached out to New York Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony during All-Star Weekend, according to ESPN.com's Chris Broussard.
The pair have known each other for years -- going back to their days on the AAU circuit in the Northeast. There's a mutual respect between both players that has gained more prominence in the last couple of years because of Noah's progression into an All-Star center.
The interesting part of Broussard's report is that Noah and Anthony's discussion began in regard to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau's name has been tied to plenty of speculation over the last year because of his icy relationship with the Bulls' front office. ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported earlier in the season that Anthony's Knicks had an interest in possibly bringing Thibodeau back to be their head coach if and when embattled coach Mike Woodson is let go.
The Thibodeau wrinkle to this story is telling because of Noah's own relationship with his coach. After being named an All-Star for the second time, Noah said that players don't usually ask about Thibodeau. Noah has also been open about the fact that he doesn't feel comfortable in the All-Star setting because of the dislike for opponents that is built up over the season. Despite that, he found a way to communicate to Anthony that he could win in Chicago. How much of an impact Noah's words may have had is still to be determined.
Noah admitted during the summer of 2010 that he reached out to free agent LeBron James to talk about playing with the Bulls -- but James never called him back. While James' situation was different, there's still no way to tell how much a recruiting pitch means to certain players.
What will be intriguing to watch is how Noah and the Bulls respond to the Carmelo chatter. Given the way Thibodeau has them laser-focused night to night, their play on the floor isn't going to be affected. What will be telling is how much the speculation weighs on the minds of the players involved over the coming months, if at all.
If Anthony were to join the Bulls, that would likely mean the end of Taj Gibson's tenure in Chicago, assuming Anthony wouldn't take a multi-million dollar paycut, and would definitely mark the end of Carlos Boozer's time in Chicago because the final year of his contract would be amnestied. It would also mean that Mike Dunleavy, and possibly Jimmy Butler, would be gone as well in order to create enough cap space to bring Anthony over. On top of that, it would put an end to the possibility of bringing European star Nikola Mirotic over to the NBA this summer.
The Bulls' core moving forward would be Derrick Rose, Noah and Anthony. There wouldn't be space for much else because of the trio's high-priced deals. It's a risk the organization is willing to take so that it could finally pair Rose with another superstar, especially as the 25 year-old makes his way back from two knee surgeries.
Rose is said to be on board with the Anthony plan and would even be willing to speak to him if the time comes. That would mark a dramatic change in thinking for Rose, given he has repeatedly said he wouldn't recruit stars to play with him. Rose's thought process is that if a player wants to come to Chicago and win, he will -- an extra conversation isn't going to make that big of a difference.
But this is the new-age NBA. Players want to be wanted. They want to feel as if they're needed. Money will almost always be most important, and winning is key, but so is marketability and having a structure in place to grow one's personal brand. That's why teams spend so much time and money recruiting specific free agents as if they're coming out of high school and into college again.
As an organization, the Bulls know this. That's why they have to be pleased with the fact that this story about Noah and Anthony has come to the forefront. The organization has publicly backed Rose in his stance against recruiting, but it can't hurt to have Noah out there singing the praises of the team and wooing players like Anthony to the United Center.
The difference is that now, unlike in years past, Noah has the cache -- and the charisma -- to make players stand up and listen to what he and the Bulls have to say.
Joakim Noah's pitch for Carmelo Anthony can't hurt Bulls.