Joakim Noah and New York Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek were involved in a "heated verbal exchange" during practice last week, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports, and the fallout now has the team actively exploring ways to move the disgruntled center.
Last Tuesday, Noah got into a shouting match with Hornacek during the fourth quarter of a game against Golden State. The following day at practice, still frustrated, the 32-year-old confronted the coach again. Though the situation stopped short of turning physical, Noah was sent home afterward on a "leave of absence." Now, it looks like the former All-Star might've suited up for the last time in a Knicks uniform.
Noah has been reportedly upset with his role all season. He's played in only seven games, seeing less than six minutes per contest behind New York basketball luminaries like Kyle O'Quinn and Willy Hernangomez. Noah still believes he can provide legitimate minutes for somebody out there, though his time in New York hasn't offered much validation. He played in just 46 games last year before undergoing season-ending knee surgery and then received a 20-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy.
This season, he's seen the floor so few times that it's difficult to imagine anyone trading for him since he's owed nearly $38 million over the next two years (including a ridiculous $19.3 million in 2019-20). Charania reports that New York has yet to approach the former Defensive Player of the Year about a buyout.
New York fans don't want to hear it, but Twitter is aflame with basketball pundits everywhere saying, "I told you so." When Noah signed a 4-year, $72 million contract with the Knicks in the 2016 offseason, it not only confirmed that Phil Jackson never should've been hired, it left the rest of the basketball world laughing. It was peak Knicks. From Jerome James to Eddy Curry, this team has a habit of overdrawing the ATM account. In an age where teams have gotten somewhat smarter (besides Michael Jordan's Hornets) about not throwing money around like Jordan Belfort, Noah's deal has been so bad that some have argued it's the team's worst ever.
Ugh. At the end of the day, even the most staunch New York fans had to see this one coming. Blame the front office for offering such a stupid deal. Noah was a fading star that never should've been given that much money anyway, especially not in New York. A huge contract with a former "star" playing limited minutes on a rebuilding team, there was really only one way this was going to end.
Whether it's through trade (unlikely), through a buyout or stretch (probably the best course of action) or even just through offering unlimited sick days for the next three months, we've probably seen the last of Joakim Noah in a Knicks uniform.