Joakim Noah is finally off the Knicks’ salary book and here’s where his $72 million went

New York Knicks, Joakim Noah. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
New York Knicks, Joakim Noah. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Sound the bells, prepare the parade, and invite the family — the New York Knicks will not pay Joakim Noah in the 2022-23 season.

Believe it or not, it will be the first time in six seasons that Noah is completely off the team’s payroll.

To put that in perspective, Noah, who played his last game for the Knicks in 2018, got paid more money by the team during the 2021-22 season than Immanuel Quickley and Mitchell Robinson.

The Florida product signed a four-year, $72 million contract with New York in 2016. The contract was maligned from the start.

Here’s what led the New York Knicks to sign Joakim Noah in 2016

Noah only played 29 games in his final season (2015-16) with the Chicago Bulls because of injury, and he didn’t regain his starting job upon return. He had seen two straight seasons of increased injuries and decreased output across the board after coming in an incredible fourth in MVP voting during the 2013-14 campaign.

That year, he finished directly ahead of James Harden and Stephen Curry in the voting.

The other bit of context that is important about the Noah contract before delving into how it played out is the money mistake monstrosity that took place across the league in the summer of 2016.

That summer, the salary cap raised from $70 million to $94 million, and a collection of all-time bad contracts were given out.

The same summer the Knicks paid Noah, the Los Angeles Lakers handed Luol Deng a four-year, $72 million deal and Timofey Mozgov a four-year, $64 million deal. Elsewhere around the league, the Memphis Grizzlies gave Chandler Parsons a four-year, $94.8 million deal, and the Portland Trail Blazers dished out $75 million for Evan Turner.

What happened with Joakim Noah and the Knicks?

Noah’s career in New York actually started out decently. He played in and started his first 46 games, averaging 22.1 minutes a game and putting up five points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists while playing above-average defense.

It then went downhill quickly.

Noah had to undergo knee surgery at the end of February, and then he was suspended 20 games without pay for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. The injury bug then continued as he had to get a more serious surgery for a torn left rotator cuff that kept him out for another six months.

The following season, he played seven games before a screaming match took place between him and coach Jeff Hornacek.

He never played another game for the team.

The Knicks would go on to release him on Oct. 13, 2018, and activate a stretch provision to allow the team a longer period to pay out his contract money. Importantly, during this period, Noah refused a buyout that would have allowed New York to pay him less.

Noah would go on to play for the Clippers and Grizzles in the subsequent years, but here is how his Knicks 2016 contract got paid out, according to Spotrac.

2016-17: Knicks – $17,000,000
2017-18: Knicks – $17,765,000
2018-19: Knicks – $18,530,000 (He did not play a single game for the team this year)
2018-19: Grizzlies – $1,731,173
2019-20: Knicks – $6,431,667
2019-20: Clippers – $144,901
2019-20: Clippers – $289,803
2020-21: Knicks – $6,431,667 (No longer in NBA)
2021-22: Knicks – $6,431,666 (No longer in NBA)

In the end, Noah played a total of 53 games for New York. He never averaged more than five points and never shot above 50% from the field.

He was paid $72 million to do so.