The Bulls may not have the best front line around, but with the addition of live-wire forward-center Joakim Noah on Thursday night, they almost certainly have the most emotion-packed one.
Selected with the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft, Noah joins Tyrus Thomas, Ben Wallace and perhaps Andres Nocioni on a front line that is certain to lead the league in smack talk, floor burns, primal screams and chest thumps.
"Ben Wallace. I get to play with Ben Wallace," Noah gushed at league draft headquarters in New York. "That's awesome. I'm big fan of Luol Deng and Ben Gordon and Curry. I mean, it's just awesome."
Eddy Curry? Hey, the kid is a rookie, remember.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," the brash Noah went on to say. "I mean, I feel so fortunate right now. I'm so excited. I can't wait to get to Chicago. I feel really lucky."
Know as a relentless defender, rebounder and shot-blocker, Noah brings some much-needed size to one of the smallest front lines in the league.
At the predraft camp in Orlando, Fla., Noah was measured at 7-foot with shoes, 6-foot-10½ without shoes. His 223-pound frame is on the lean side, though.
"We need size on our roster," general manager John Paxson said. "We have Ben Wallace, Tyrus Thomas and some free agents (Nocioni and Malik Allen) that we don't know if we'll be able to sign."
After Noah slid to the ninth pick -- a number of mock drafts had him headed to the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 7 pick -- Paxson and his staff had their choice of him or Washington center Spencer Hawes, who worked out twice at the Berto Center in recent days.
Paxson took a familiar path when he selected the player with a Final Four background.
Noah was the third member of the Florida national championship team to be selected among the top nine picks.
"Joakim is a proven winner," Paxson said. "The guy plays hard every single night. We understand what the concerns are from an offensive standpoint, but the guy is an athletic 7-footer. As we look at this thing going forward for the next five to 10 years, he's the type of guy with his energy and enthusiasm on the floor that fits in perfectly with us."
While Noah helps fill the need for size at the power positions, he doesn't address a more urgent void, that of an inside scorer.
"I definitely have to improve," said Noah, who averaged 10.6 points per game in his three-year college career. "I have to get better. I mean, I really look forward to the challenge."
According to a league source, Bulls talks with the Memphis Grizzlies about power forward-center Pau Gasol are expected to reopen in the near future.
Prior to the February trade deadline, the two sides had serious discussions about a Gasol trade but couldn't agree on the terms.
The Bulls were believed to have offered a package that included Gordon, forward P.J. Brown and a first-round draft pick. But the Grizzlies insisted that Deng be part of the deal, a price the front office considered to be exorbitant.
Since then, Jerry West has stepped down as Grizzlies operations chief. Earlier this week, his successor, Chris Wallace, suggested he would listen to any and all trade proposals this summer.
"I don't think anybody is untouchable on any team," Wallace was quoted to have said. "Shaquille O'Neal was traded. Wilt Chamberlain was traded. If the right deal comes your way, anybody in this league can be traded. But at the same time, Marc (Iavaroni, head coach) and I aren't out there actively trying to move these players."
The Bulls also could renew discussions with the Seattle SuperSonics in regard to forward Nick Collison, about whom they inquired recently.
The addition of Collison would help appease guard Kirk Hinrich, who remains the only player on the roster close to untouchable status despite his subpar postseason performance. Collison and Hinrich are close friends and one-time Kansas roommates.
On Thursday, the SuperSonics acquired forward Jeff Green in a deal that sent Ray Allen to Boston, a move that would appear to make Collison expendable at this time.
"You always have a lot of conversations, but nothing really came of it at the very end," Paxson said of trade talks in recent days. "We'll still try to improve our basketball team. We now that we need a low-post scorer in some capacity. Those are the things that we'll address as we go forward. It's a piece-by-piece process."
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