Joakim Noah is taking his talents to France.
No, not to play professional basketball overseas if the NBA lockout extends to the fall -- as Utah's Deron Williams plans to do. Instead, he will represent the French by playing for Team France.
According to ESPNChicago's Nick Friedell: "Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah is scheduled to leave for France on Monday to begin preparation for a stint with Team France in the European Championships in Lithuania, according to a source close to the situation. Noah, who has dual U.S. and French citizenship, is expected to be overseas for the next two months as the NBA lockout carries on."
Even last summer (and throughout last season) there were rumblings that Noah would play with Team France, but he declined.
He'll join six fellow NBA players -- Portland's Nicholas Batum, Charlotte's Boris Diaw, San Antonio's Tony Parker, Phoenix's Mickaël Piétrus, Washington's Kevin Seraphin and New York's Ronny Turiaf -- on Team France, which will certainly get a big boost with an NBA All-Star type center in Noah, who averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds last season and would've been an All-Star if not for a thumb injury that wiped him out for 30 games.
It should be a healthy experience for Noah, who admittedly needs to work on his game this offseason if the Bulls are going to take the next step after losing in the Eastern Conference finals last season. His areas of improvement -- better condition and a consistent midrange jumper -- are evident.
Now, it's up to him, though playing in the World Championships -- where the U.S. (and Derrick Rose) would've had to play had they not taken home the Gold Medal last summer -- is a good start in what could be a long offseason.
Filed under: Bulls Offseason