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Lakers Free Agency: Joakim Noah is not a bad plan B at center

If Los Angeles strikes out on Whiteside, they should go after Chicago's veteran center.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Lakers LinkedIn, our new free agency preview series (inspired by our friends over at Liberty Ballers’ own "Sixers Tinder") where we look at the "resumes" of various free agents, and determine whether or not we think the Lakers should hire them.  After watching Chicago seemingly burn bridges with all of their veteran mainstays, should the Lakers try to lure Joakim Noah to the purple and gold?

Joakim Noah’s Resume:
-NBA All-Star: 2013, 2014
-All-NBA First Team: 2014
-NBA MVP Voting: 4th place in 2014
-NBA Defensive Player of the Year: 2014
-All-NBA Defensive Team: First (2013, 2014) and Second (2011)
-2015 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award
-NCAA Champion: 2006, 2007

Joakim Noah is the kind of player that everyone wants on their team and nobody wants to play against. With a relentless motor and sky-high basketball IQ, he uses every inch of his 6’11" frame and above average athleticism to torment opposing players. At this point in his career, Noah is an eight-year veteran whose best days are undeniably behind him, but many NBA teams will be kicking the tires to see how much he has left in the tank going forward.

Although he only played 29 games this season due to injury, Noah is just two years removed from the 2013-14 season where averaged an unreal 12.6 points, 11.3 boards, 5.4 assists, and 2.7 combined blocks and steals. Those numbers, achieved when Derrick Rose was out with a catastrophic knee injury, were good for fourth in MVP voting and a first team All-NBA nod. While it is fair to doubt he can reach those levels again, a change of scenery and the motivation to show up the Bulls front office might bring the best out of Noah once again.

At this point in his career, there are several things a team signing Noah can still be sure of: mental toughness, veteran leadership, competitive spirit, and a steady locker room presence. When healthy, Noah is still capable of being a top-notch defender and anchoring an elite defense. On offense, he has always had a spotty jump shot, but is an underrated passer that could still be effective in the right system. It’s also tough to say anyone achieves their maximum potential in a Tom Thibodeau-engineered offensive system.

Should the Lakers hire Joakim Noah? Sure, if he’s available after the first wave of free agency signings. By most accounts, Rose is pulling hard for him to come join the Knicks this summer, but the Lakers can almost certainly offer more money than Phil can. I still think that the Lakers should be pursuing pieces that can complement and grow with the young core, like Hassan Whiteside, but Noah is a great plan B.

Noah could come in and serve as a veteran leader and mentor to one of the league’s youngest teams. He would provide instant credibility on defense, where he could serve as the primary rim protector and complement Julius Randle. He could also use his athleticism to run the floor with the young guns on the break. At the end of the day, you can never have enough smart, tough veterans on a team that is learning how to win.

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