New York has reportedly reached out to other clubs to gauge their interest in acquiring Noah, but any deal the Knicks might swing would likely hinge on their willingness to pick up most of the nearly $38 million remaining on the center's contract, which runs through the 2019-20 season. If a trade can't be worked out before camp opens, the Knicks would likely use a waive-and-stretch provision to remove Noah from the roster. Noah has played just 82 total games across the past three seasons due to both health issues and his fractured relationship with the Knicks, but the 33-year-old could still offer some value off the bench for a team thanks to his defensive abilities and passing skills.
New York is expected to waive Noah and stretch the remainder of his contract, which is for two years and $37.8 million, unless the unlikely scenario of a willing trade partner materializes. The situation between Noah and the Knicks arose in January, with Noah and ex-coach Jeff Hornacek having to be separated during a practice session. Following another heated argument in February, the two sides parted ways. Noah appeared in 53 games for New York between injuries and a suspension for taking a banned substance, averaging 4.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists across 19.9 minutes per game.
Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek dismissed any chance of Noah rejoining the team over the final three weeks of the regular season, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. "I'm not sure," Hornacek said Monday, when asked about when he expects the team to resolve its contentious relationship with Noah. "In the summer, [general manager Scott Perry] and [executive president Steve Mills will start] talking with him. I guess that's how it will get resolved.'"
Regardless of what dialogue -- if any -- between Noah and the front office comes during the summer, it seems quite likely that the veteran center has already played his last game with the Knicks. The Knicks will likely keep Noah on the roster until Sept. 1, at which point they are expected to release Noah using the stretch provision on his contract. That would open up cap space for 2019 while having the big man off the books by 2021.
Noah has been away from the Knicks since an altercation with coach Hornacek on Jan. 24. Then on Tuesday, Hornacek essentially went on to confirm that he didn't expect Noah back with the team this season. "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." He also added, "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." From everything that's been reported up until this point, it sounds like the relationship between the two sides is beyond repair and it would make sense if Noah were ultimately released despite having two years left on his original four-year, $72.59 million contract.
The Knicks were surely hopeful to find a trade partner for Noah at the deadline, but that was always going to be a tall task with the veteran center's performance having declined sharply over the past two-plus years and more than $40 million remaining on his contract. It looks increasingly likely that the Knicks will eventually just write Noah off as a sunk cost and release him, as his relationship with the organization appears irreparable after he engaged in a verbal feud with head coach Jeff Hornacek during a Jan. 24 practice that resulted in the 32-year-old being restrained by teammates. The Knicks decided against suspending Noah for the incident and have instead opted for a mutual separation that could very well end up being a permanent one.
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