The 2018 NBA free agency concluded with the Los Angeles Lakers losing Julius Randle and Brook Lopez, and passing on the opportunity to sign All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins on a cheap deal. As of now, the Lakers are expected to enter the 2018-19 NBA season without a legitimate starting center on their roster. They currently have JaVale McGee, Moritz Wagner, and Ivica Zubac to play at 5, but none are ready for the starting role.
McGee spent most of his NBA career coming off the bench, while Wagner and Zubac obviously need more experience. Based on their preseason games, Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton could entrust the role of starting center to McGee. If they struggle early in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Lakers should consider adding another big man.
Days before the regular season officially begins, the New York Knicks decided to part ways with center Joakim Noah. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Noah will become an unrestricted free agent after clearing waivers with the Knicks next week.
“After waiving Joakim Noah on Saturday, the New York Knicks will use the stretch provision on the remaining year of his contract to clear salary-cap space in an effort to pursue top free agents in the summer of 2019, league sources told ESPN. Using the stretch provision reduces Noah’s cap hit of $19.3 million in 2019-20 to $6.4 million, saving the team $12.9 million toward the cap. Stretching his contract, though, will cost the Knicks $6.4 million in cap space in the summers of 2020 and 2021.”
— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) October 13, 2018
Joakim Noah failed to live up to expectations since joining the Knicks in 2016. Last season, the 33-year-old center found himself out of New York’s rotation, resulting in a heated argument with former Knicks Head Coach Jeff Hornacek. Though David Fizdale is now the new head coach, the presence of Enes Kanter, Mitchell Robinson, and Luke Kornet makes Noah the odd man out in New York.
The Knicks may no longer need Noah on their team, but the veteran center can still be valuable to a team who lacks frontcourt depth. According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, signing Noah is a “no-brainer” for the Lakers, especially if he can prove that he can still play.
“I can make a pretty easy argument that if Joakim Noah can still play, he’s a no-brainer for the Lakers.”
At 33, there’s no doubt that Joakim Noah is already on the downside of his career. However, when given enough playing time, Noah can be a reliable contributor in terms of rebounding and protecting the rim. Noah would surely love the idea of playing for a legitimate playoff contender, where he can prove that he’s still one of the best defensive big men in the league.