The Los Angeles Clippers‘ push to represent the Western Conference in this year’s NBA Finals has seen them make a number of roster changes since early last month, making moves before the February 6 trade deadline and beefing up their bench via the free-agent market. According to new reports, former Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah is expected to be the team’s latest such post-deadline acquisition.
As cited by Bleacher Report, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report that Noah and the Clippers had agreed on the terms of a contract on Friday, with The Athletic‘s Shams Charania adding shortly thereafter that the 35-year-old will initially be signing a 10-day deal next week. This means Noah could soon be seeing his first action of the 2019-20 campaign, close to a year after he had last suited up for the Memphis Grizzlies.
In 42 games with Memphis in 2018-19, the veteran big man averaged 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists, marking a career rejuvenation of sorts after a difficult, injury-riddled two seasons with the New York Knicks.
While Noah’s performance with the Grizzlies made him a rumored free-agent target for teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2019, an Achilles injury suffered in the offseason was partly blamed for the fact he remained unsigned for the majority of the ongoing campaign. As of January, however, he was taking to social media and sharing videos of himself preparing for yet another return from injury.
“The grind can’t stop. This is all I know,” read the caption of one of Noah’s Instagram posts from that month. “[Four] months post-Achilles surgery and I’m back on track. My goal is to get back out there and compete.”
In the weeks prior to the latest development with Noah, the Clippers retooled their roster by acquiring forward Marcus Morris (New York Knicks) and point guard Isaiah Thomas (Washington Wizards) ahead of the trade deadline, though Thomas was waived before playing a game with his new team. The organization also signed another point guard last month, landing Reggie Jackson after his contract was bought out by the Detroit Pistons.
If Noah signs with the Clippers as rumored, he will be joining a center rotation that already includes Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell. As speculated by Bleacher Report, the former top-10 draft pick out of Florida is expected to provide a strong defensive presence off the bench and sharp passing skills for a big man but not much more than that, given his advanced age and injury history.
“If he’s as solid as he was last season, the Clippers likely found a late-season steal,” the outlet wrote. “But at age 35 and coming off a lost few years, it’s hard to be fully confident he’ll repeat his Memphis run.”