Joakim Noah is expected this summer to get his wish.
Noah had said in 2011 he wanted to work out at some point with Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon. A representative of Noah said Friday the Chicago Bulls center and former University of Florida star this summer will be tutored by Olajuwon in Houston.
“Hakeem can absolutely help him,’’ said Frank Rutherford, who coordinates workouts for Olajuwon. “He can increase his scoring production and his defense, without a question.’’
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Rutherford said a date for Noah, who last season made his first All-Star team, has not been set but soon will be. Rutherford also named seven other players who will work out this summer with Olajuwon, including center Dwight Howard.
Howard, a free agent, has announced he plans to sign with Houston, the team Olajuwon starred for from 1984-2001. Olajuwon is good friends with Howard and worked him out in 2010 and 2011 and would have again last year had he not had a back injury. Olajuwon was part of a Rockets group that earlier this week met with Howard in Los Angeles to lure him away from the Lakers.
“They are very close,’’ said Rutherford, who won a bronze medal in the triple jump at the 1992 Olympics for the Bahamas and has known Olajuwon since they both were at the University of Houston in the early 1980s. “But (Olajuwon) would be working (Howard) out this summer regardless of what team he was with.’’
Others Rutherford named to be tutored by Olajuwon this summer are forwards Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony of New York, center JaVale McGee and forward Kenneth Faried of Denver and big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond of Detroit. While the first four previously have worked out with Olajuwon, it would mark a first time for the Pistons players.
Rutherford said Olajuwon also is hopeful this summer of working out with forwards Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka of Oklahoma City and that there are talks to try to get Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan to Houston. None of those four players previously have been tutored by Olajuwon.
Olajuwon is well regarded for what he has taught players. Miami forward LeBron James, who learned post moves from Olajuwon in 2011, and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant both have raved about him.
Noah has talked before about wanting to learn from Olajuwon.
“That’s something I would really like to do,’’ Noah, who has French citizenship, had told French website BasketSession.com in 2011. “Everybody knows that he has helped the guys who have come to work out with him tremendously. Just to be able to live this experience would be great.”
Noah has had schedule obligations and an injury in recent years and couldn’t learn under Olajuwon. But now he has his chance.