Of all the questionable contracts handed out during the free agent frenzy of 2016, Joakim Noah‘s has turned out to be the worst. Luol Deng may be wasting away on the end of the Lakers’ bench, but at least he’s doing it quietly. Noah has become not only a financial nightmare for the Knicks, but a problem in other ways as well.
He hasn’t been with the team since January, when he was suspended following a heated argument in practice with former coach Jeff Hornacek over playing time. That bookended a season that started with another suspension, this one imposed by the league for using a banned substance. In total, Noah played just 40 total minutes over seven games and collected $17.765MM. He still has two seasons and $37.8MM remaining on the $72MM deal that ex-team president Phil Jackson gave him two summers ago.
The Knicks would like to end their relationship with Noah and reportedly plan to use the stretch provision to officially cut ties sometime after September 1. By waiting until then, New York can lock in his $18.53MM salary for the upcoming season and stretch the final $19.295MM over three years. That will free up roughly $12.9MM for next summer, when the Knicks hope to make an impact on the free agent market.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using the stretch provision, as Philip Bondy of The New York Daily News detailed today. The Knicks are concerned that Noah might not be willing to stay away from the team and collect his checks for an entire season. If he’s still on the roster, Noah could take his case to the players’ union and force his way back into the locker room, where he could be a disruptive presence for new coach David Fizdale.
If that’s not a concern, there’s no rush to unload Noah’s contract. The stretch provision will be an available option all the way through next summer, and Noah might have some value as his contract gets closer to expiring. Bondy points out that the Nets were able to trade Timofey Mozgov, who has a deal similar to Noah’s, because the Hornets needed to unload Dwight Howard to escape the luxury tax.
We want to get your opinion on how the Knicks should handle Noah. Should they employ the stretch provision as quickly as possible or hang onto him in hopes of either finding a trade partner or convincing him to accept a buyout? Please leave your responses in the space below.