Why Noah is Bulls' franchise player

Joakim Noah's intensity and personality are what make him the face of the Bulls. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Zach Lowe of Grantland wrote recently about how "unlikely" bonuses in player contracts could potentially put some non-taxpaying teams past the tax thresholds. One of the subjects of his piece was Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, whose $500,000 bonus for making first-team All-NBA would push the Bulls' payroll into tax territory.

Fortunately for Chicago's bean counters, the play of Dwight Howard and the subsequent rise of the Houston Rockets, particularly over the last two months, make Noah's candidacy for a spot on the first team more and more unlikely as the season winds down.

But there's another question to be answered by Bulls management: Even when (if?) hometown hero Derrick Rose returns to full health, isn't Noah really the centerpiece of the franchise? Is Noah the face of the Bulls?