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Missing the earlier model of Joakim Noah, not the later one

(Scott Stewart/Sun-Times)

I loved Joakim Noah as a Bull, but I loved one particular version — the one who raced up and down the floor, gave everything he had and got teammates to give more than they might have thought possible. That version lasted a long time.

But for the past two seasons, when he couldn’t run with the abandon he wanted, Noah wasn’t himself.

Was it simply a matter of injuries that, given time, will heal? Or was it the beginning of the end, the wear and tear of all those minutes and all that effort?

Nobody knows.

It’s why the Bulls shouldn’t be sad that they failed to re-sign him, if they truly tried, and why the Knicks should be very nervous about giving him a four-year, $72 million contract.

Whatever the Bulls are trying to do this offseason (Dwyane Wade? Rajon Rondo?), Noah didn’t make sense for them, no matter how much he has done for the team and the community. He’s a beaten-up 31, and his NBA defensive player of the year award from 2013-14 feels like a long time ago.

I’ll say the same thing about Noah that I said about Derrick Rose, whom the Bulls traded to the Knicks: If he becomes the player he used to be, I won’t hold it against the Bulls. There’s too much of a risk that he’ll never get back to what was. Better for everyone to move on.