Since joining the New York Knicks, Joakim Noah has become known more for his unfriendly contract than his on-court performance. Despite this, Noah can become a mentor to foster the young talent in New York.
Perhaps the most intriguing storyline surrounding the New York Knicks is the future of center Joakim Noah. The New York native left the team last January after a reported physical altercation with then-coach Jeff Hornacek during practice.
The argument was reportedly centered around his lack of playing time during the 2017-18 regular season.
In his two seasons with the Knicks, Noah has averaged a mere 4.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. This is an underwhelming stat line for a player who signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the team during the summer of 2016.
Over the course of the past year, New York’s front office has been trying to move Noah via trade or a buyout, each to no avail.
Noah told TMZ Sports that he wants to remain with the team this coming season despite the strained relationship that has formed between the two sides.
With the former Defensive Player of the Year in position to remain a Knick for another year, it’s important for him to find a role in the rebuilding process that has consumed New York’s front office.
Having four centers on its current roster, Noah’s on-court impact will be limited. Head coach David Fizdale will have to divvy up minutes between veterans Enes Kanter and Joakim Noah, while also potentially giving developmental time to young big men Luke Kornet and Mitchell Robinson.
With an $18.53 million paycheck coming his way for the 2018-19 season, Noah should look to fill a mentorship role in the young, rebuilding locker room.
Much has been given to the impact that veteran players have on rebuilding teams accumulating young talent.
"“It’s kind of poetic — because it’s very cyclical. You have a player coming into the league — green, unsure of what to expect or how to survive — and you have a veteran that was once in his place, who’s able to impact that younger player…So I think it’s beautiful and I think it’s so impactful for a young player to be paired up with a solid veteran.”"
Noah can salvage his remaining time in New York by taking the young talent on the roster under his wing. Such an accomplished player could have a major impact on prospects such as Kornet and Robinson.
Noah’s time in New York could be viewed much more favorably if he can help Fizdale create a defensive-minded culture. This should be in Noah’s DNA, as he was arguably the best defensive big man in the Association during his prime years on the Chicago Bulls.
Of course, his time as a Knick could be ending soon. The offseason is far from over, and the former Florida Gator could still agree to a buyout with his hometown team.
But for now, Joakim Noah remains a part of the rebuild in New York—and could play a larger role than anticipated in the future success of the New York Knicks.