Gone are the days when Joakim Noah was still considered as one of the most dominant big men in the NBA. From being a Defensive Play of the Year, the New York Knicks now see Noah as the odd man out on their team. Despite hiring a new head coach, the Knicks are still hoping to get rid of Noah and the remaining two years and $37.7 million left on his contract.
According to Kristian Winfield of SB Nation, what the Knicks plan to do with Joakim Noah’s contract will play a major role in their plan for the summer of 2019. Successfully clearing Noah off the books will put the Knicks in a strong position to open up enough salary cap space for a maximum free agent. The 2019 NBA free agency will be loaded with numerous NBA superstars like Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and DeMarcus Cousins.
Acquiring at least one of those superstars will dramatically increase the Knicks’ chance of fully dominating the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. To get rid of Joakim Noah’s contract, most people expect the Knicks to use the stretch provision on the veteran center before or after August 31. However, after the Houston Rockets succeeded in dumping Ryan Anderson’s lucrative deal to the Phoenix Suns, there is a growing optimism in New York that the Knicks could also do the same with Noah.
“A salary dump would mean giving up future draft picks and/or young prospects to sweeten a deal with a team that’ll absorb the contract without giving much salary in return. The Sacramento Kings are the last team with significant 2018 cap space remaining at this point in the offseason, and they still need to come up with almost $9 million to match salary in a trade. Because both Deng and Noah have two years remaining on their deals, the Knicks and Lakers could also deal with teams willing to trade expiring contracts.”
I wrote about how the Lakers and Knicks can approach Luol Deng and Joakim Noah with respect to the 2019 free agency.— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) August 31, 2018
Both teams need to clear cap to sign max free agent(s) next summer. Both also have to make decisions on overpaid veterans.https://t.co/9WVvUKLjqG
Parting ways with young prospects and future draft picks just to dump Joakim Noah’s contract is undeniably a tough decision for the Knicks. However, giving up valuable assets will be worth it if they succeed in adding a legitimate NBA superstar who can play alongside Kristaps Porzingis. In the past months, rumors that upcoming free agents Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler are reportedly planning to play together on one team have surfaced, with the Knicks emerging as their top destination.
Acquiring both superstars will definitely make the Knicks a legitimate title contender, but giving Irving and Butler max deals will require more than just getting rid of Noah’s contract.