Joakim Noah has become a forgotten man in New York. The two-time NBA All-Star has been in exile since his clash with Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek last month. The two reportedly had a “physical altercation” during practice that forced the Knicks to ban Noah indefinitely from attending their team games and sessions.
According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, the beef started during the Knicks’ January 23 game against the Golden State Warriors, when the team fell, 123-112, to the defending champions.
The team’s coaching staff was said to have advised Noah that he will be deployed against the Warriors as Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn are both sidelined by injuries. However, Noah was only used for a mere five minutes, entering the game with 10 minutes left in the final quarter before Hornacek pulled him out with five-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game. The move reportedly angered Noah and “had words with Hornacek” as he sat back on the bench.
During practice the next morning, the two failed to cool down from what happened the night before and again had a heated exchange. Isola reported that Hornacek pushed Noah and Noah pushed him back, resulting in the 6-foot-11 center’s current banishment.
The Noah-Hornacek beef appeared to be irreparable at the moment, which had led to rumors that the Knicks would either waive or buy out Noah’s contract soon. New York is leaning into a buyout, reports said, as it would give the Knicks more cap flexibility moving forward.
Isola then mentioned three teams who are rumored to be interested in signing Noah once he becomes a free agent, namely the Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Wolves are an “obvious” choice “since it would reunite Noah with his former coach with the Chicago Bulls, Tom Thibodeau,” Isola said. Noah played under Thibodeau for five seasons in Chicago, earning his two All-Star berths (2013 and 2014) and winning the 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year during that time. He was also named to the 2014 All-NBA First Team.
Minnesota currently has Karl-Anthony Towns as their starter with Gorgui Dieng, Cole Aldrich, and Justin Patton alternating as substitutes, so their center rotation is already pretty much crowded.
There are no reports yet whether the Wolves have already reached out to Noah, but some analysts believe that it could happen as soon as the Knicks release him.