The New York Knicks remain unlikely to reincorporate exiled center Joakim Noah into the team under new coach David Fizdale and still plan to part ways with the veteran big man before training camp, league sources told ESPN.
Unless general manager Scott Perry can find a trade that includes Noah, the Knicks will use the NBA’s waive-and-stretch provision to release Noah sometime after Sept. 1, league sources said.
Noah, 33, has two years and $37.8 million left on his contract, and waiting until September to stretch it allows the Knicks to spread the balance of his remaining contract into smaller cap hits over the next three years.
After the hiring of Fizdale in June, Knicks management didn’t rule out the possibility of Noah rejoining the organization for the 2018-19 season, but that scenario has gained no traction, league sources said.
Perry has been attempting to move Noah since prior to last February’s trade deadline, but he has been cautiously unwilling to include the necessary assets — a good young player, or a future first-round pick or picks — to make Noah’s contract palatable to another team.
Talks continued through the summer, but New York hasn’t come close to finding a deal to unload Noah, league sources said. Using the stretch provision after Aug. 31 reduces Noah’s cap hit to $6.4 million, saving the team $12.9 million toward the salary cap. Stretching his contract after Sept. 1 costs the Knicks $6.4 million in cap space in the summers of 2020 and 2021.
The $18.5 million salary for 2018-19 still counts toward the Knicks’ salary cap, although that number could be reduced if a buyout is agreed upon with Noah, or if New York doesn’t waive the set-off in his contract.
Noah and the Knicks separated in February following a heated argument between Noah and ex-coach Jeff Hornacek. The relationship spiraled after Noah and Hornacek had to be separated during a West Coast practice session in late January. Noah became vociferous toward Hornacek in the aftermath of a brief appearance in a Jan. 23 game and engaged the coach verbally in practice the next day.
In the end, that turned out to be the conclusion of Noah’s brief tenure with the Knicks.
Former Knicks president Phil Jackson signed Noah to a four-year, $72 million free-agent deal in July 2016 with the hope that he could be an anchor for New York’s defense.
Noah, a two-time All-Star for the Chicago Bulls and 2014 Defensive Player of the Year, never made an impact with New York. He played 46 games in the 2016-17 season, losing time to various injuries and an arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. In February 2017, the NBA suspended Noah 20 games for taking a banned substance — a suspension that cost him the first 12 games of the 2017-18 season.
Noah averaged 5 points and 8.8 rebounds in 22.1 minutes per game in his first season in New York. He averaged 1.7 points, 2 rebounds and 5.7 minutes in seven games in the 2017-18 season.
ESPN front-office insider Bobby Marks contributed to this report.