Though Joakim Noah has yet to finish out the first half of his four-year, $72.6 million with the New York Knicks, he’s somehow already played his last game in orange and blue.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek confirmed that much following the team’s first practice out of the All-Star break, per Newsday‘s Al Iannazzone:
Jeff Hornacek wouldn’t comment on reports that he pushed Joakim Noah during their heated exchange last month in Denver. But Hornacek gave the strongest indications yet that Noah won’t be back with the Knicks.
“I think that is the plan,” Hornacek said following practice Tuesday night. . . .
“That’s something that happened three weeks ago, four weeks ago,” Hornacek said. “We handled that thing with Jo. It’s not finalized because he’s still on the roster. We’ve dealt with that situation.
“There’s really nothing more to say about it, update it. We’ve moved on. He’s ready to move on and maybe have an opportunity somewhere else. That’s really our focus to go play Orlando. We have 23 games left. We’re trying to get our young guys to step it up. That’s kind of old story and all done with as far as I’m concerned.”
This tracks with everything we’ve been hearing over the past couple months. And the Knicks, as a rebuilding team overloaded with bigs, have never needed a soon-to-be 33-year-old Noah less.
None of which changes his contract with the team. Noah has two years and $37.8 million left on his deal after this one. He’s untradeable at that price point until the final season, and even then, the Knicks may have to include a sweetener or two. He’s also unlikely to give New York much, if anything, back in a prospective buyout. His stock has plummeted over the past few years, most notably since he left Chicago. He isn’t recouping close to whatever money he might leave behind in a potential buyout.
That leaves the Knicks with the stretch provision. They can waive Noah and spread the final two seasons of his contract over the next five years, at around $7.6 million a pop. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but the alternative is waiting out his deal for two years while he spends his time away from the team. And while that may be the most responsible course of action, since Kristaps Porzingis won’t play again until next Christmas at the earliest, the Knicks have never been known for their patience.