The New York Knicks have reinstated center Joakim Noah after his 20-game suspension and waived Mindaugas Kuzminskas as reported by ESPN to make room on the roster. But, what does that mean for the likes of Kyle O’Quinn and Willy Hernangomez? While Noah was serving his suspension, the Knicks have gone through a major makeover. Last time Noah took the court in a Knicks uniform, Derrick Rose was the leading point guard, Carmelo Anthony was playing isolation basketball and Kristapas Porzingis was still the second-fiddle.
How times have changed in just a few short months.
With Noah back in the fold, he will have to find minutes behind newly acquired Enes Kanter. While it seems easy for Jeff Hornacek, it’s anything but. The Knicks have found ways to win games even with players struggling. Porzingis has been great in his first starring role, but what happens if Noah disrupts chemistry?
The Knicks are giving up 105 points per game and while Noah can ease some of the defensive pressure off Poringis and Hardaway Jr, he offers nothing else. Noah, set to make $17.7 million this season, has to find a way to be just as productive as Kanter. If Noah struggles, then the Knicks may be forced into a trade or buyout for Noah.
But the problem for the Knicks is that no team is willing to take on Noah’s remaining contract, which runs through 2020. Phil Jackson figured teaming Rose and Noah up in a new city would turn the Knicks into the 2010 Chicago Bulls. Didn’t happen, and now the Knicks will field a frontcourt with O’Quinn. Hernangomez, and Noah, all with the same skill set of rebounding.
All this means is that one has to go. But who?
Joakim Noah will be back with the Knicks on Monday after finishing his 20-game suspension for taking a banned substance. He called the suspension ‘very humbling’ and said he wants to help the Knicks ‘in any way’ he can: pic.twitter.com/mb8i6iHH2v
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) November 11, 2017
It’s not that Noah is a locker room cancer, it’s just that his presence may indeed cause a riff to a unit that’s as together as they have been in the last three seasons. Noah will certainly cut into a player’s time, but which player? Kanter (13.6 points, 10.6 rebounds) averages 25.1 minutes, Hernangomez (5.0 points, 1.7 rebounds) averages 9.3, and O’Quinn (6.7 points, 6.0 rebounds) averages 16.6. Going by the numbers, that leaves Hernangomez as the odd man out. But, will Noah be willing to take a back seat to Kanter?
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) November 18, 2017
Last season, as dismal as it was for Noah, he still was the starter. After his suspension, Noah will become a spot duty player and for a veteran like himself, that may not sit well. What the Knicks should hope for is a trade request from Noah. The Knicks must look at Noah’s return the same way they viewed Carmelo last season. The team is heading in a new direction and overpriced veterans are not needed.
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