- The New York Knicks are reportedly looking to part ways with Joakim Noah after he had a “heated verbal exchange” with head coach Jeff Hornacek.
- The fallout comes less than two years after the Knicks signed Noah to a questionable-at-the-time, four-year, $72 million contract.
- Noah’s expensive contract and declining production makes it unlikely that the Knicks could easily trade him.
One of the ugliest contracts of the summer of 2016 is getting worse.
When the New York Knicks signed Joakim Noah to a four-year, $72 million contract in free agency in 2016, most in the NBA world expected it to be a deal the Knicks would eventually regret. Noah had played just 96 total games over the previous two seasons, with his productivity and athleticism declining along the way.
Now, less than two full years into the deal, it’s getting worse for the Knicks.
Yahoo’s Shams Charania reported on Monday that the Knicks are looking to part ways with Noah after he had a “heated verbal exchange” with head coach Jeff Hornacek and was sent home for two games. It’s unclear if he will re-join the team this week.
The 32-year-old center has played seven games and 40 total minutes this season. His season ended last year after just 46 games when he was shut down with a knee problem, and then he served a 20-game suspension for a drug violation that bled into this season. When he returned to the team, he had been passed in the rotation by Enes Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn, and Willy Hernangomez as part of the Knicks’ center logjam.
While Noah was accepting of a bench role, his spat with Hornacek was reportedly over limited playing time in a loss to the Golden State Warriors. According to Charania, Noah believed he could be a contributor on a winning team.
Trading Noah will be no easy feat for the Knicks. His production and durability doesn’t make him a particularly trade asset to begin with, but Noah still has two years and $37 million remaining on his contract after this season In a summer when few teams are projected to have cap space, taking on Noah’s contract would be a deal-killer for almost every team.
In January, ESPN reported that the Lakers – who are seeking to open up cap space for two max contracts this summer – were having trouble moving Luol Deng, who also signed a four-year, $72 million contract in the summer of 2016. The Lakers were finding that teams were asking for too much in return to take on Deng’s contract. Noah may be even worse due to his inability to stay on the court and the declining value of centers in the NBA.
The Knicks could consider using the stretch provision on Noah – extending his deal at a lower cap hit for several years – or buying him out. The former is likely not appealing to a team in rebuilding mode, and the latter likely isn’t appealing to ownership, given the cost of Noah’s deal.
For now, it seems as though Noah will be stuck on the Knicks unless the team is willing to make huge concessions in the form of draft picks or cash.