In the two years since he signed a four-year, $73 million contract with the New York Knicks, former Chicago Bulls All-Star Joakim Noah has played just 53 games, averaging only 4.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. With another two years remaining on his contract, it appears that the former Defensive Player of the Year might not be returning to New York for the 2018-19 NBA season, as the team is reportedly planning to release him if they can’t find a willing trade partner to take him on.
In a new report from ESPN, Adrian Wojnarowski and Ian Begley cited league sources, who don’t expect new Knicks coach David Fizdale to have any plans to “reincorporate” the exiled Noah into the lineup. The 33-year-old Noah was deactivated in February, not long after he and then-Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek had a “heated” argument during a practice session, one where both men reportedly had to be separated to prevent the altercation from becoming physical. According to the New York Daily News, the argument started because Noah was upset over a lack of playing time.
According to Wojnarowski and Begley, the New York Knicks are still trying to trade Joakim Noah, just as they have been since his deactivation, but if they cannot send him elsewhere this summer, the veteran center/forward could be released “sometime after September 1” via the NBA’s waive-and-stretch provision.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 8, 2018
Noah, who has two years and $37.8 million remaining on his current contract, would only cost the Knicks $6.4 million worth of cap space in the summers of 2020 and 2021 if he is waived after September 1. The $18.5 million he stands to receive in the coming season would still count against the team’s salary cap, though Wojnarowski and Begley noted that the cap hit could go down if New York comes to terms on a buyout for Noah.
If Noah gets released by the New York Knicks, that could allow the former top 10 draft pick out of Florida to get a fresh start after dealing with injuries and league suspensions for most of the past three seasons. According to his Basketball-Reference player page, Noah’s best statistical season was in 2013-14, where he averaged a career-best 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists, played in his second straight All-Star Game and was named Defensive Player of the Year as the Chicago Bulls’ starting center.
Aside from dealing with the effects of arthroscopic knee surgery in the 2016-17 season, Joakim Noah was also suspended for a violation of the NBA’s drug policy in February 2017, and consequently sat out the first 12 games of the 2017-18 NBA season.