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Joakim Noah's career arc: from facepalms to All-Star bid

Plus two Brook Lopez stunners and the Suns' bid to become the league's most dysfunctional franchise.

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It's easy to forget that Joakim Noah wasn't always destined to be an NBA All-Star. He was picked after his Florida colleagues Al Horford and Corey Brewer in the 2007 NBA Draft, and had a really rough rookie season. You might remember that he was benched for a game ... by his teammates. After the rookie Noah got into a shouting match with an assistant coach, the team's veterans led by Adrian Griffin held a team vote on whether Jo should sit for a game. This was only weeks after Jim Boylan replaced Scott Skiles as head coach. The teammates voted unanimously to discipline Noah, and so he did.

Another sign of Noah's status back then: the Sacramento Kings reportedly declined to trade Spencer Hawes (taken one pick after Noah) straight up for him after their rookie years. Mind you, this was Geoff Petrie ... but it was a legit question as to whether Noah would ever be better than a rotation big. He had a weed moment that summer, too. Things were not promising.

And now look at him: an NBA All-Star as decided by Eastern Conference coaches, all of whom know how much trouble he creates on the court for opponents. He and fellow All-Star Luol Deng have kept the Bulls in contention while Derrick Rose rehabs; this team, if Rose looks good, will be rightfully feared (again) in April, May and perhaps June. It's simply amazing what Noah has become over the past five years, and it should give hope to fans of ... less than angelic big men everywhere.

Noah himself deserves the credit first and foremost, but don't sleep on the impact of leaders like Rose and Deng, and coaches like Vinny Del Negro (yes, VDN) and Tom Thibodeau, who command more respect than poor Boylan did. But again, credit Noah here. He's done grown up and helped carry the Bulls with him. His All-Star bid is not just well-deserved, but it's a culmination of the hard work Joakim has put in.


What is more stunning: that Brook Lopez didn't make the East All-Star team or that in 2013 we are collectively stunned that Brook Lopez didn't make an All-Star team? A tremendous turn of events.


The Suns are officially on track to become the NBA's most dysfunctional franchise as soon as the Maloofs are officially out of the league. The latest: Elston Turner, the lead assistant and most experienced coach on staff after Phoenix canned Alvin Gentry for being unable to turn a roster of dog food into a steak dinner, was disappointed the front office picked executive Lindsey Hunter as the interim coach over him. But he offered to stay on ... and then the front office elevated Igor Kokoskov to lead assistant. But Turner offered to stay on ... until the Suns told him they didn't see a role for him.

Are you freaking kidding me? Paul Coro has the full story in USA Today:

Turner went to a coaches meeting Tuesday morning but was told by Hunter that Suns management wanted to speak to him before he took up the offer to return to the staff.

"The whole meeting had a dark cloud hanging over it," Turner said. "It just gave me the impression that roles may change. Instead of viewing me as an asset, it made it seem like they couldn't use my experience or they would have to try to work me in. The whole tone was negative."

Coro also reports that the Suns denied Turner's request to leave the team in 2011 to join his close friend and longtime partner-in-coaching Rick Adelman in Minnesota. (Turner was a top assistant under Adelman in Sacramento and Houston for more than a decade.) So, rewind: the Suns refused to let Turner out of his contract before last season, and refused to allow him to fulfill his contract this season. Other than that, Lon Babby and Lance Blanks have been total dolls!

We all expected the Suns to be far less interesting when Steve Nash left. But I'm not sure we expected the place to turn into a circus. It's plainly obvious that the Gentry dismissal and Hunter promotion were grossly mismanaged; basically, no one but Hunter and the front office are happy. Jermaine O'Neal reportedly got into a confrontation with Blanks earlier this week; Goran Dragic wasn't shy about his displeasure with the switch.

Sure, the Suns are 2-0 under Hunter. But in the long run, the fundamentals of this franchise are absolutely not strong.


The Hook is an NBA column by Tom Ziller. See the archives .