New Clippers backup center Joakim Noah cannot wait to get back on the court. In an extended conversation with The Athletic’s Jovan Buha, Noah went into detail about how he lobbied for his NBA return, now transpiring more than a year after he last suited up for the Grizzlies.
The article specifically notes that Noah, a two-time All-Star and 2014 Defensive Player of the Year with the Bulls, used his connections to get his shot with the Clippers. In just 16.5 MPG, Noah averaged 7.1 PPG and 5.7 RPG across 42 contests for Memphis during the 2018/19 season.
Noah, who splits his time between homes in Manhattan and Los Angeles, inked a 10-day contract with Los Angeles on March 9, two days before league play was paused due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Buha notes that, at 91 (now 94) days and counting, Noah’s deal has become one of the longest 10-day contracts in NBA history.
Signed for his skills as a limited-minutes defensive attribute, a rim-rolling energetic force and a savvy passer, the 35-year-old can also function as something of a mentor to starting Clippers center Ivica Zubac. Undersized backup big man Montrezl Harrell gets the lions’ share of minutes at center.
The article also mentions that the Clippers will most likely guarantee Noah’s contract for the rest of the season, including the playoffs. The whole piece is well worth a read, but here are some choice quotes:
On concluding his career with a title contender:
“It was about being able to finish my career on a team that has a common goal.”
On waiting for his opportunity with Los Angeles through the coronavirus delay:
“I think it’s just it’s all about perspective and how you look at it… Even though it was a setback, I think it also makes me appreciate the opportunity that much more, you know?”
On his role with the Clippers:
“The way I look at it is I know that I’m in an environment right now with a winning culture and a team that’s really trying to win a championship and there’s not much more I could ask for… Regardless of what my role is, I’m grateful. I know I’m as ready as I can be. So it’s not about comparing myself to past years or even last year, it’s just being the best that I can be physically and using my experience to be there for the guys.”
On being able to mentor Zubac:
“I just want to talk to (Zubac) about some of the things that I’ve been through… I’ve been in situations where we had championship aspirations and then injuries kind of derailed that. So it’s just not taking your opportunities for granted. And just because you’re a young player doesn’t mean that these situations happen all the time. So it’s just like really living in the moment.”
On playing within the Orlando bubble during the pandemic, with a realistic title chance:
“I think that it’s different for teams who don’t have a chance, but for teams who have a chance, these opportunities don’t … I mean, we trust the league and we know that you know (NBA commissioner) Adam (Silver) is — I don’t think he’ll put the players’ health in jeopardy. He’s somebody who has shown time and time again that he’s the best commissioner in sports… There’s nobody I would want to do this with more than with the Clippers.”