Trans. Oct 20 3:18 ET (Oct 20 3:18 ET ) Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has always found a sound balance between the frantic and ferocious nature of his game and off-court tranquility, though many have jokingly chalked that up to Joakim’s particular strain of recreational activities. The same cannot be said for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who reportedly has very little in terms of a personal life outside of basketball, in between putting in marathon shifts and sometimes sleeping at the team’s practice facility. The secret to Noah’s success in keeping things outwardly chill? He won’t and shouldn’t give it the full credit, but apparently yoga helps quite a bit. And he’s convinced it would help with his volatile and single-minded coach. From an interview with Bill Schulz at the Daily Beast : Coach Thibodeau always looks like he’s on the verge of an aneurism. What, if anything, could you do to calm him down? He looks like that whether he’s happy or sad. But I’d have him do yoga with me. He could use that. What’s the most pissed off he’s ever been at you? He gets pissed off a LOT. But he never makes any clash we have public, and he calms me down a lot as well. He knows when to let me vent. I’d pay good money to see a sitcom starring you two as comically mismatched roommates. I don’t know if could watch that. I don’t know if I could watch that, either. I’d rather be watching the East’s best center and best coach take their odd coupling to the basketball court. I’m hardly an expert, but yoga does help. On days that I practice it, I feel less anxious, centered, sometimes more positive and definitely more focused than usual. Noah has such an unusual game with the physical demands of both a guard and a bruising big man that it only makes sense that he would start his day with an exercise that involves calming and physical activity. Perhaps coach Thibs would be well-served to join him in a session. Both are wonderfully intriguing cases as we head into 2013-14. Noah might be the son of a tennis legend (Yannick Noah, 1983 French Open winner), but he was hardly a basketball prodigy – a unique and self-taught player that had to work his way into high school and college prominence in ways that you would hardly call “orthodox.” From a snippet from Jonathan Abrams’ feature at Grantland : “I wasn’t pampered by the process,” Noah said. “A lot of these guys from a young age, especially when you’re a top player in your age group, you get a lot of people telling you how great you are. Everyone wants to be your friend. I never had that. I had to deal with that a little bit because of who my father was, but as a basketball player I didn’t have to deal with that.” Instead of competing at ABCD, Noah mopped and dried the courts and worked the hot dog stand while LeBron James, Sebastian Telfair, and other prep standouts hustled up and down the floor. “He was the cutest, most lovable, horrible basketball player I ever saw at that age,” [camp leader Sonny] Vaccaro said of Noah. “But he had this determination. He cleaned the floor. We called him the tennis guy.” “The tennis guy” turned out to be a major recruit for Florida University, where he went on to win two NCAA titles. That led to a gig with the Bulls, in what was thought to be an apprenticeship under former Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace. Wallace was not keen to instruct the excitable rook, though, and the two clashed. It took the acquisition of journeyman Brad Miller – just about Noah’s polar opposite – for things to click. By this time, Miller (who became fast friends with Joakim) was a master at high post passing, finding cutters and lanes when plays broke down, making others better with just the flick of the wrist. Offensively, Noah learned from Miller’s moves, leading to a near-historic batch of center-styled passing during the 2013-14 campaign. That season ended with a one-sided first round loss to the Washington Wizards, as the Bulls once again look to steel themselves for a long and arduous season that will no doubt come into contact with a LeBron James-led group during the playoffs. James’ teams have ended Noah’s seasons three times in the last five seasons, and the two are notoriously cold to one another. What matters in the months before that pairing, even if the two do play each other on Monday night in a meaningless exhibition game, is Noah’s health. He was playing on a knee that required surgery during Chicago’s 2014 playoff run, and he’s still recovering from what the team is calling an arthroscopic procedure (though the recovery time from such a procedure is usually far shorter than what the team listed over the summer and what Noah is working through right now). Joakim says that he’s improving, but this is a crucial year for his Bulls. New signee Pau Gasol is already 34, Noah turns 30 midway through the season, and the time to win is now. There is the fear that Noah’s legs and Tom Thibodeau’s big basketball brain – two assets that were put to the test with Derrick Rose missing nearly all of two seasons – might be reaching a straining point. That things might be fit for a collapse. An understandable collapse, but perhaps an unavoidable one. Maybe if Tom bought a mat and joined in a time or two, the Bulls could stretch this out. (Also, yeah, if you’re wondering, Joakim Noah still has other calming influences to turn to .) If a player tests positive for marijuana, the first penalty is an automatic four game suspension and mandatory counseling. Yet, the league now has TWO franchises in states where pot is legal: do players discuss this ridiculousness? Everybody sees the hypocrisy. To paraphrase Peter Tosh, if Illinois were to legalize it, would you advertise it? [ Smiles ] To quote Bob Marley: Time will tell. So, there’s that. I’ve only heard the Black Crowes version of that song, so I can’t possibly know what Joakim is referring to. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
Pau Gasol played through his minor back issue in Monday's exhibition against the Cavs, scoring 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting with eight rebounds, one block and one 3-pointer in 32 minutes.
The Scoop:It's a great sign that Gasol played so much in a game that was more competitive than your average preseason game, but we don't want to read into things too much since Pau was the only starter to get extended run. He's currently being taken in the middle rounds and 'if' he plays close to starter's minutes that will obviously be a bargain.
Pau Gasol (back) finished Sunday's exhibition victory with 15 points on 7-of-16 shooting, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and five turnovers.
The Scoop:His back injury was never serious and the veteran big man will be ready to start alongside Joakim Noah on opening night. Whether he's on the court to finish games during the regular season is another question -- Gasol said recently that he wants to play in the fourth quarter, but coach Tom Thibodeau has shown a preference for the defensive pairing of Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson. Either way, Gasol's current ADP of 60.7 gives him considerable upside in fantasy leagues.
Pau Gasol (back) returned to practice on Wednesday.
The Scoop:Coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't sound concerned and he just needed some rest on Tuesday. Gasol has played very well so far with the Bulls and he tends to slide in fantasy drafts. If some of your favorite mid-round targets went earlier than you thought, Gasol isn't a bad backup plan.
Pau Gasol had another nice night in 24 minutes of action on Monday against the Nuggets, blocking four shots to go with nine points and four rebounds in just 24 minutes.
The Scoop:Gasol is playing like a re-energized man after leaving the toxic situation in L.A., and though his minutes will be limited in a crowded rotation it's probably a good thing for his health. Don't go crazy here, but he's looking like a solid mid-round pick in standard leagues.