Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah: “Too Lit To Play In New York”

Excessive partying may have been responsible for Joakim Noah‘s downfall in New York, the former Knicks center says in an interview with Chris Vernon of Grind City Media (hat tip to Chris Iseman of USA Today).

Noah has looked much better since signing with the Grizzlies last week, averaging 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds through five games. While those are modest numbers, they are far better than what he posted during two frustrating years with the Knicks.

“I remember after the first game (in New York) I probably had like 60 people in my house,” Noah said. “I’m too lit to play in New York City. Memphis is perfect for me.”

Noah, 33, admits he had the same party habits earlier in his career, but added, “We were lit in Chicago, but I was young. You recover faster, you know?”

Noah was a two-time All-Star and former Defensive Player of the Year with the Bulls before receiving a four-year, $72MM offer to join the Knicks in 2016. He battled injuries in his first season with the team, appearing in 46 games, then played just seven more last year before being suspended following an altercation with former New York coach Jeff Hornacek in practice.

The Knicks waived Noah before the start of this season, using the stretch provision on the remainder of his contract.

“It happened so fast,” Noah recalled. “One year I’m playing 35 minutes a game. And then injuries started piling up. I got this crazy deal with the Knicks, and then the next thing you know I’m not playing anymore. Get kicked off the team. It was a crazy time. I wasn’t sure I was gonna get an opportunity to play again.”

Noah believes he was able to save his career by leaving New York after being released and heading to California to dedicate himself to getting back into game shape. If he can rediscover the all-around skills he displayed in Chicago, Noah could be a valuable backup for the Grizzlies as they fight for a playoff spot.

“I got the call from Memphis. … I decided that this was a good fit,” Noah said. “I’m just really, really happy to be here.”

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Conley, White

In what is a surprise to many, the Mavericks are the current kings of Texas, having jumped out to a strong 13-11 start. As Brad Townsend writes for SportsDay Dallas, the additions of Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan have helped boost the Mavericks from the lottery to the playoff picture.

Doncic has been sensational as a rookie, averaging 18.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while hitting several clutch shots down the stretch of games. Jordan has improved the Mavericks’ rebounding and has provided an interior presence that the team has lacked in recent years.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks’ bench has been very successful, as J.J. Barea and Dwight Powell have played well in their specified roles. With Rick Carlisle at the helm, the Mavericks appear to be a very competitive team this season that has a good chance of sneaking into the playoffs.

There’s more from the Southwest division:

  • Mike Conley is struggling with a dislocated finger, which hampered his play against the Lakers last week. As David Cobb reveals for Commercial Appeal, Conley had trouble holding the ball, which obviously isn’t a good thing for the Grizzlies‘ leading guard. Conley believes the swelling and discomfort will improve in the coming days.
  • Derrick White continues to work on regaining his confidence and comfort after coming back from injury earlier this season. Jabari Young of The Athletic details the support that White has received from the Spurs‘ coaching staff and some of his teammates as he looks to make his mark in the Spurs’ depleted backcourt.
  • A recent Southwest notes post detailed Dirk Nowitzki‘s upcoming return to action, how the addition of Joakim Noah impacts other bigs on the Grizzlies roster and much more.

Southwest Rumors: Nowitzki, Noah, Gordon, Anthony

Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki will not make his season debut Saturday against the Rockets but he is inching closer to his return, Dwain Price of the team’s website reports. Nowitzki, who underwent ankle surgery during the spring and suffered a setback in September, participated in practice on Friday. “He’s doing well. You see him down there. He’s playing 3-on-3 and getting better all the time,” said coach Rick Carlisle, who assured the media he won’t play this weekend.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • The addition of Joakim Noah has impacted several other Grizzlies players, as Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian notes in his latest mailbag. JaMychal Green, who becomes an unrestricted free agent, might be shopped if the franchise decides it won’t try to re-sign him. It also clouds the future of Ivan Rabb, a second-round pick in 2017, within the organization. Rabb has thrived in the G League but isn’t skilled enough or physical enough at the NBA level, Herrington opines. Noah’s presence should also reduce Marc Gasol‘s workload, Herrington adds.
  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon admits this season has been a shock to the system for him and his teammates, as he told Kelly Iko of The Athletic. He also insinuated that coach Mike D’Antoni has made some mistakes with his personnel. “I’m just not having fun man,” Gordon said. “I’m just not. This (stinks). Even the times where I have good games. We’re just not using some guys the right way. Are we gonna make the right sacrifices? Do we have the right attitude? Last year was the best year I’ve ever had being a part of a team. We just never had a bad moment.”
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey blames himself for the Carmelo Anthony signing. Morey made the remarks during a Tom Haberstroh podcast (hat tip to Sportando). “It really is mostly on me, honestly,” Morey said. “I saw the fit there and really didn’t go the way I thought it would. He can still really help a team.”

Grizzlies Notes: Noah, Conley, Future

While Joakim Noah showed some rust in his first game for the Grizzlies on Wednesday night, he held his own and brought some energy to the court, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic. Noah also played a little more than may have been expected, earning 13 minutes of action his debut, an indication that Memphis plans to make him a regular part of its rotation going forward.

For his part, the veteran center says he’s looking forward to helping his new team in any way he can and believes he can fit right in with the Grizzlies’ grit ‘n’ grind mentality.

“There’s a lot of really good young talent, and it’s a culture that has been known for its work ethic and its grind. And I pride myself on being one of those guys,” Noah said, per David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “So I just want to keep that culture going.”

Regarding Noah’s time in New York, Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he has “no questions” about the way things ended between Noah and the Knicks, as Cobb relays for The Memphis Commercial Appeal. According to Sankofa, Noah said this week that he has “nothing bad to say” about the Knicks and is focused on contributing in Memphis.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian confirms (via Twitter) that Noah’s new one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Grizzlies is fully guaranteed.
  • In a conversation with Michael Lee of The Athletic, longtime Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley talked about transitioning to a new stage of his career and his desire to finally make his first All-Star team. “I look for respect and to try to earn the respect of a lot of people,” Conley said. “If you make the All-Star team and you get the label next your name, for whatever reason, people will think, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s good now.’ But if you don’t have it, it’s, ‘Well, he’s never made it, he’s never done anything, so why would you think he’s any better than this guy or the next guy.’ It kind of keeps me under this glass ceiling that I’m trying to bust through.”
  • The Grizzlies are one of five teams that Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports believes should consider “blowing it up” sooner rather than later. Despite Memphis’ solid start to the season, Smith suggests that the team doesn’t currently have championship upside, and should consider targeting more young talent to complement building blocks like rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. and second-year forward Dillon Brooks.

Grizzlies Officially Sign Joakim Noah

12:41pm: As expected, the Grizzlies have officially signed Noah, the club announced in a press release.

11:58am: Free agent center Joakim Noah has now undergone a physical with the Grizzlies and is set to officially sign his new contract with the club today, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). A report last Friday first indicated that the two sides had reached an agreement on a deal.

Noah’s contract will be a one-year, minimum-salary pact. It will pay him a prorated salary of $1,731,173 and will count against Memphis’ cap for $1,093,858. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies won’t need to waive anyone to open up a roster spot for their newly-added center — the team has had an opening on its 15-man squad since releasing Andrew Harrison earlier in the season.

Noah, who spent two seasons with the Knicks after signing a four-year, $72MM deal with the team in 2016, appeared in just 53 games during his time in New York. He was sent away from the club last spring following a run-in with then-coach Jeff Hornacek, then was waived before this fall’s regular season opener with two years left on his contract.

Although Noah’s time as a Knick didn’t work out, he put up decent numbers in 2016/17 with the team, averaging 5.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG in 46 games (22.1 MPG), so it’s possible he could still be productive in a limited role.

That’s the Grizzlies’ hope, as they’ll add the former Defensive Player of the Year to a frontcourt that has already features plenty of defensive talent, with veteran Marc Gasol and rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. manning the middle.

Grizzlies, Joakim Noah Agree To One-Year Deal

The Grizzlies have reached an agreement with free agent center Joakim Noah, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links). According to Charania, Noah will ink a one-year contract worth the veteran’s minimum — that was all Memphis could offer, since the team had used its mid-level and bi-annual exceptions.

Noah will travel to Memphis on Sunday and sign his new contract with the Grizzlies sometime early next week, according to Charania, who adds that the club has targeted the 33-year-old for its backup center role all season.

Noah spent two seasons with the Knicks after signing a four-year, $72MM deal with the team in 2016. However, he appeared in just 53 games during his time in New York, being sent away from the club last spring following a run-in with then-coach Jeff Hornacek. The Knicks ultimately decided to waive Noah before this season’s regular season opener with two years left on his contract, stretching his $19.3MM salary for 2019/20 across three years.

Although Noah’s time as a Knick didn’t work out, he put up decent numbers in 2016/17 with the team, averaging 5.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG in 46 games (22.1 MPG), so it’s possible he could still be productive in a limited role. He certainly won’t be relied upon as the lone defensive anchor in Memphis, where Marc Gasol and Jaren Jackson Jr. already roam the frontcourt.

As Charania alludes to, the Grizzlies and Noah had been circling one another for a while. The veteran big man was first linked to Memphis about a month ago, when a report suggested the two sides had been in contact. Those discussions reportedly intensified later in the month, with a report last week indicating that Noah and the Grizzlies were expected to finalize a deal in the not-too-distant future.

The Grizzlies waived Andrew Harrison earlier in the season to open up a spot on their 15-man roster, so no corresponding move will be necessary to make room for Noah. The precise cap hit for Noah will depend on what day he signs his contract — if it’s finalized on Monday, he’d be in line for a salary of about $1.74MM and would count for approximately $1.1MM against Memphis’ cap.

Although the Grizzlies don’t have a ton of breathing room below the luxury tax line, Noah’s modest cap charge won’t put them past that threshold.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Grizzlies, Joakim Noah Expected To Finalize Deal Next Week

The Grizzlies are expected to meet with veteran center Joakim Noah late next week to finalize a deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As we relayed earlier this week, Memphis and Noah have had “extensive discussions” since he was waived by the Knicks last month. Noah, 33, spent two seasons in New York after signing a four-year, $72MM deal with the team in 2016. The Knicks stretched Noah’s $19.3MM salary for 2019/20 across three years.

That deal did not work out as he appeared in just 53 games over that two-year stretch. In his first season with the Knicks, Noah did post respectable numbers of 5.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG in 46 games (22.1 MPG). Ultimately, Noah was sent away from the team last spring after a run-in with then-coach Jeff Hornacek.

Memphis waived Andrew Harrison last month to open a spot on their 15-man roster and were rumored to be seeking a veteran big man to fill the vacancy. Since they used their bi-annual exception last season and committed their entire mid-level exception to Kyle Anderson, the Grizzlies – who are near the luxury tax threshold – can only offer a minimum salary contract.

Extensive Discussions Between Grizzlies, Joakim Noah

The Grizzlies have engaged in “extensive discussions” with free agent center Joakim Noah in recent days, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, who reports (via Twitter) that the two sides are in talks on a potential deal.

Noah, 33, spent two seasons with the Knicks after signing a four-year, $72MM deal with the team in 2016. However, he appeared in just 53 games during his time in New York, being sent away from the club last spring following a run-in with then-coach Jeff Hornacek. The Knicks ultimately decided to waive Noah last month with two years left on his contract, stretching his $19.3MM salary for 2019/20 across three years.

Since Noah reached free agency, the Grizzlies have been the only team linked to him. A report from about three weeks ago indicated that Memphis had been in touch with Noah, but had no immediate plans to sign him, and we heard a similar account last week. The latest update from Stein suggests that those discussions may have become a little more serious.

Having waived Andrew Harrison last month, the Grizzlies have an open spot on their 15-man roster, and there were rumblings that they wanted to add a veteran big man using that opening.

Although Noah’s time as a Knick didn’t work out, he put up decent numbers in 2016/17 with the team, averaging 5.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG in 46 games (22.1 MPG), so it’s possible he could still be productive in a limited role.

Since they used their bi-annual exception last season and committed their entire mid-level exception to Kyle Anderson, the Grizzlies – who are near the luxury tax threshold – could only offer a minimum salary contract.

Grizzlies Notes: Parsons, Roster Spot, Randolph, Anthony

The Grizzlies will give serious consideration to using the stretch provision to unload Chandler Parsons‘ contract after this season ends, writes Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian. Parsons will make $25.1MM in 2019/20, the final season of a four-year, $94MM deal that he signed during the free agent bonanza of 2016.

Memphis has gotten minimal production from Parsons, who has been plagued by injuries for most of his time with the organization. He played a combined 70 games over the past two years and has  appeared in just three this season because of knee and back soreness.

Stretching Parsons’ contract would allow the Grizzlies to break it up into $8.4MM payments over the next three seasons and could give the team enough room to offer a max contract next summer. However, that depends on other financial factors as well, such as whether Marc Gasol decides to opt out of his $25,595,700 deal.

There’s more Grizzlies news to pass along, all courtesy of Herrington:

  • Memphis probably won’t fill its open roster spot, even after the MCL sprain that could sideline Dillon Brooks for up to eight weeks. Omri Casspi‘s impending return from a knee injury will help ease the shortage, and the Grizzlies believe Yuta Watanabe can become a contributor on defense. The front office recently explored the idea of adding former Knicks center Joakim Noah, but no signing is planned, at least not right away. Like many teams with cap issues, Memphis has been keeping one roster spot unfilled to help save on tax penalties.
  • There may be sentiment to bring back Zach Randolph, who hasn’t gotten off the Kings’ bench this season, but that comes more from fans than from the organization. Randolph had his best years in Memphis, but he seems to have accepted his situation in Sacramento and there’s little incentive for the Kings to buy him out before they try to trade him. Randolph has an expiring $11.7MM contract that could make him attractive to a contender by the February deadline.
  • The Grizzlies are an intriguing possibility for Carmelo Anthony once his time in Houston officially ends. Memphis could use another shooter and has both a veteran core and a strong foundation on defense that could help Anthony excel. However, Harrington notes that power forward is now probably Anthony’s best position, and the Grizzlies are already well stocked there with Jaren Jackson Jr., JaMychal Green and Kyle Anderson.

Grizzlies Notes: Roster Opening, Noah, Randolph

The Grizzlies‘ Thursday announcement that they’ve waived third-year guard Andrew Harrison came as a bit of a surprise, given the fairly prominent role he has had in the team’s rotation in recent seasons. Cutting Harrison opens up a spot on Memphis’ 15-man NBA roster, but the move wasn’t made with a specific signing in mind, according to Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian (Twitter link). Herrington adds that he wouldn’t expect that roster spot to be filled immediately.

While teams can carry up to 15 players on standard NBA contracts, many clubs opt not to fill their rosters near the start of the season — as our roster counts page shows, only 19 of 30 teams have full 15-man rosters at the moment.

Leaving that last spot empty allows for roster flexibility and saves some money. Plus, with a pair of players on two-way contracts also available if needed, teams generally have plenty of depth without having to carry a 15th man.

Here’s more out of Memphis:

  • The Grizzlies currently have a greater need in the frontcourt than the backcourt, as Herrington notes (via Twitter). According to Herrington, the team “had some contact” with free agent center Joakim Noah recently, but have no plans to sign him at this point.
  • Despite Memphis’ desire for a little more frontcourt help and the strong possibility that Zach Randolph will eventually get a buyout in Sacramento, don’t expect a reunion between Randolph and the Grizzlies, Herrington writes in a mailbag for The Daily Memphian. Herrington believes the club is more likely to target a defensive option in the middle, and may not make a move unless Marc Gasol goes down for an extended period.
  • The Grizzlies’ strong start can be attributed in part to improvements on their bench, as Drew Hill of The Memphis Commercial Appeal details. Offseason additions like Shelvin Mack and Omri Casspi are among the players making an impact in Memphis’ second unit.