Bulls sign Joakim Noah to multiyear extension, lose Carlos Boozer to hand injury for 2 months

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bulls keep Noah, Boozer out with broken hand

DEERFIELD, Ill. — The Chicago Bulls are keeping Joakim Noah around for a while. When he gets to play with Carlos Boozer, however, will take a little bit longer than expected.

The Bulls confirmed they have signed Noah to a multiyear contract extension. The team did not disclose terms Monday, but a source has told The Associated Press it is a five-year deal. The Chicago Tribune reported it is worth about $11 million annually with incentives that could take it higher.

“It’s always very weary when negotiations are going on,” said Noah, a fourth-year center and a key to the Bulls frontcourt. “There’s the collective bargaining agreement going on next year, so there’s not a lot of players in my class that got contract extensions. I feel like they did because they like me and I’m pretty happy about it.”

Noah is coming off a breakout season in which he averaged 10.7 points and 11.0 rebounds per game while battling plantar fasciitis in his left foot that kept him out of 18 games.

With the CBA between the NBA and the players’ union set to expire next summer, teams have been reluctant to tie up long-term money. Noah said that the negotiations were a factor in his decision to sign the extension, but not the deciding one.

“When people put numbers like that in front of you, it’s very hard to say no,” said Noah. “You have to keep things in perspective a little bit. Some people were telling me not to take it, but I feel like I made the right decision.

“I really didn’t want (the negotiations to drag on). I really wanted get it out of the way and just focus on the season. People always tell you not to worry about it, but that’s easier said than done.”

Despite the hefty raise, Noah pledges not to change the all-out playing style that has made him a favorite of Bulls fans.

“I promise that I’m going to give 150 percent every time I’m out there,” said Noah. “There’s a lot of responsibility (that comes with the contract). I’m excited for the challenge.”

The news wasn’t so good for Boozer, who broke the fifth metatarsal in his right hand over the weekend. He will have surgery on Tuesday, and is expected to miss about eight weeks.

“You hate to lose a guy like that, but it’s also part of the NBA,” new coach Tom Thibodeau said. “You have injuries, but we have good depth. We have several guys who have started in the league. We’ll just have the next guy step up and move forward.”

Boozer said he suffered the injury in an accident at home.

“I came around a corner, trying to get to the front door,” Boozer said. “I tripped over the bag I used for training camp and fell on my hand with all of my weight. Just crushed the bone.”

Boozer struggled with injury problems in three of his six years in Utah, but said that this is the strangest one.

“One hundred percent, the oddest way (I’ve been injured),” Boozer said.

After the Bulls fell short in wooing Dwayne Wade, LeBron James or other high-profile free agents, Boozer became the centerpiece of the team’s offseason rebuilding plan. Chicago is already trying to blend several new players into the roster, including Ronnie Brewer, Keith Bogans, Kyle Korver and Omer Asik.

“Right now, Taj (Gibson) will be in his place,” Thibodeau said of Boozer. “Defensively, we’re not going to change at all. Offensively, we may change a little bit in terms of how we’re going to get the ball into the paint.”

Boozer averaged 19.5 points in 11.2 rebounds in 78 games last year for Utah.

Chicago begins preseason play Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Brewer (ankle) won’t be available, Thibodeau said, so Bogans will start his place, joining Gibson, Derrick Rose, Noah and Luol Deng.

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