Although the Los Angeles Lakers have quality players at both guard and both forward positions, many pundits have observed that the team remains weak at center, where former Golden State Warriors backup JaVale McGee and 2018 first-round pick Moritz Wagner will be joining Ivica Zubac in the middle. As the Lakers have opened up a new roster spot with the recent buyout of Luol Deng’s contract, Fansided blog Los Angeles Sports Hub recommended that the team use that vacancy to sign veteran big man Joakim Noah, assuming the New York Knicks are able to find a way to buy out his contract.
As previously reported by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers currently do not have any plans to make use of the vacant roster spot created after they waived Deng and bought out his contract. While the recent move could be more important in the long run because it gives the Lakers the salary cap space to sign another superstar to a maximum contract in the summer of 2019, Los Angeles Sports Hub wrote that the team still has some weaknesses that need to be addressed ahead of the 2018-19 season.
Given the fact that the tam’s center rotation is made up of a “thin group of guys” and the possibility that LeBron James might occasionally have to play out of position in the middle, L.A. Sports Hub suggested that the Los Angeles Lakers’ best option could be to sign Joakim Noah, who remains under contract with the New York Knicks, but has frequently been rumored to be on his way out of the team. Last month, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ian Begley reported that the Knicks are planning to release Noah via the waive-and-stretch provision “after September 1” if they aren’t able to find a team interested in acquiring him in a trade.
Today, September 1st, is the first day the Knicks can use the stretch provision on Joakim Noah without being forced to stretch his 2018-19 salary.— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) September 1, 2018
Here are the pros and cons of parting ways with Noah immediately vs. waiting as long as possible:https://t.co/yApITy6Dc4
While the Knicks have yet to waive or trade Joakim Noah, Los Angeles Sports Hub wrote that the team might need to do so if they want to have enough salary cap space in the 2019 offseason to sign top-tier free agents such as Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler, who have both been rumored to be among the Knicks’ top targets next summer. Currently, Noah is still owed close to $38 million for the remaining two years of his contract.
Despite decent career averages of 8.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, multiple All-Star game appearances, and 2014 Defensive Player of the Year honors, Joakim Noah has struggled in his last two seasons with the Knicks. The 33-year-old center has played in only 53 games and averaged 4.6 points and 4.7 rebounds since coming to New York. He was limited to just seven games in the 2017-18 season after dealing with lingering injuries and falling out of the team’s rotation.