After two injury-plagued seasons that were widely seen as a disappointment, former NBA Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah was waived by the New York Knicks on Saturday afternoon. But despite Noah’s reputation as a productive big man during his time with the Chicago Bulls, reports suggest that no other NBA team is interested in signing the 33-year-old center. That apparently includes the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose coach and president, Tom Thibodeau, has been known to sign or trade for players he once coached in Chicago.
According to a report from ESPN, the Knicks will be using the stretch provision to alleviate the financial blow of the $19.3 million owed to Noah in the final year of his four-year, $72 million contract. This would save the team $13 million in cap space for the 2019-20 season and bring the team closer to having enough money to sign a maximum contract free agent next summer. However, the Knicks might need to make at least one more roster move in order to afford such a player, as further noted by ESPN’s Ian Begley and Adrian Wojnarowski.
In two seasons in New York, Noah played just 53 games, with his averages of 4.6 points and 7.9 rebounds as a Knick substantially lower than the 8.9 points and 9.3 rebounds he averaged in nine seasons with the Chicago Bulls.
Although Joakim Noah is scheduled to clear waivers early next week and become an unrestricted free agent, CBS Sports wrote that the veteran big man is “unlikely to sign anywhere else,” given the previous surgeries and league suspensions he dealt with over the last two years. In line with this, ESPN wrote that the Minnesota Timberwolves, in particular, don’t appear to be showing any interest, despite the fact that Noah played five seasons in Chicago with Tom Thibodeau as his head coach.
As noted by USA Today in September, Minnesota’s NBA team has often been nicknamed by fans as the “Timberbulls” because of Thibodeau’s penchant for adding his former Bulls players to the roster. These include the likes of Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, and most recently, Luol Deng, whom the Timberwolves acquired in the offseason after the Los Angeles Lakers similarly waived him via the stretch provision. However, that same USA Today report also cited a tweet from the New York Times‘ Marc Stein, who said that the Timberwolves had “no current plans” to acquire Noah at that time.
Despite the apparent lack of interest in his services at the moment, there are some who still see Joakim Noah as a valuable piece on another NBA team. Speaking to the New York Post, Bill McNally, who was Noah’s high school coach at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, said that his former player could potentially “fill a niche role as a leader” on a contending team. McNally also brought up the topic of a possible reunion with Thibodeau, though in this case, he speculated that the Timberwolves head coach “would love to have [Noah] back.”