Cutting Ties: The Hardship of Dropping Joakim Noah
The 2017-2018 NBA season will soon be ending for the hapless New York Knicks. With an injured Kristaps Porzingis and an uncertain future, the organization will have a lot of work to do this summer. One of the most pressing topics it must address is the dreaded contract given to Joakim Noah two seasons ago. The $72 million deal has been a heavy burden on the organization. Frustration has been mutual, as the injury-riddled Noah has voiced his grievances with the team and stepped away from it back in January. With the growing antagonism on both sides of this deal, the Knicks need to find a way to drop Noah.
The hardest part about all of this is finding a team to take Noah. Once upon a time, Joakim Noah was a defensive force in this league as a member of the Chicago Bulls. After suffering from injuries, the former Defensive Player of the Year was unable to revamp his career. In hopes that he would be able to have a resurgence in New York, the Knicks severely overpaid Noah. Two years later, the entire NBA has seen him not live up to his end of the bargain. Severely under performing in limited minutes made Joakim Noah a bust in New York. Thus, it may prove rather difficult to find a team willing to trade for Noah. Obviously, it is better for the Knicks to get something rather than nothing. However, New York needs to prepare to waive Noah if no trade partner emerges.
The $40 million pill
If New York ends up waiving Noah he will still get paid. No matter how they cut it, the Knicks will have to pay Noah close to $40 million. The Knicks could invoke the stretch provision of Noah’s contract to give them more time to pay him. The other route would be to waive him and pay him immediately. Neither option gives the Knicks any cap savings and essentially leaves the team in the same spot, minus a toxic relationship. For the sake of a healthy and happy organization, the Knicks may opt to pay Noah sooner than later.
Essentially, the Knicks need to get out of the habit of overpaying injured players. As the team looks to build a winning roster, they cannot afford to keep throwing away money. On paper, the Knicks have a redeemable squad that could possibly make a playoff run. Spending unwisely undoubtedly hurts any plans the team may have of winning. While this is a lesson for the future, the team needs to deal with present realities.
Time to say Goodbye
Joakim Noah is a bad fit for this team and the situation has already turned sour. Keeping him beyond this season will not do much in terms of helping the team improve. Noah doesn’t want to be in New York anymore and the fans don’t want him there. The best thing the organization can possibly do is trade him. In case that doesn’t happen, the Knicks are going to have to waive him sooner or later. $40 million may be the cost of getting out of a bad relationship.