Joakim Noah signed a ridiculous free agent contract last year with no opt-outs and to show his appreciation he had the second worst season of his career. As atrocious as he was last year for the Knicks, the year before he was akin to a statue in the park, which made his signing a moment of insanity for beleaguered and now fired Phil Jackson. Phil knew what Noah was. The numbers spelled it out. In 2015-16 he played 29 games and only started 2. He made 38.3% of his shots, 48.9% of his free throws, but to his credit Noah rebounded the ball 8.8 times a game. He moved the ball well but only scored 4.3 points a game. But Jax still felt it necessary to outbid the market and drop $17 mil in his lap which would have been fine if the salary cap didn’t exist. But it does. So the Noah salary is a huge weight dragging the cap down. Noah was paid $3.4 million for every point scored, after only playing 46 games.
As of today, he is back on the Knicks roster, probably in the rotation and the sorrowful news is the Knicks are stuck with Noah. He is their Phil Jackson legacy as much as Kristaps Porzingis is. I am not going to say he can’t be traded. The Lakers traded Timofey Mozgov who is making nearly the same salary as Noah but Mozgov’s production in 2016-17 was what Noah would wish for: 7.4 points, 51.5%, 4.9 rebounds, 54 games.
In 2016-17, Noah was a sad 5.0 points, 49.0%, 8.8 rebounds, 46 games. His incompetence was infectious leaving a curse upon a team who was treading water most of the season and then just drowned at the end. In New York, Noah’s name is dirt. If Phil Jackson was enemy number one, than Noah was 1A. He stole money and New Yorkers hate that more than they hate anything.
“I don’t feel sorry for myself. Everything that happened were my decision. I’m a grown-ass man. I’m playing in New York City. It sucked because i didn’t play well. I get to bounce back and come back next year. I’m not going to quit.”
The imaginary thinking of Joakim Noah has him going back in time and reverting to the Noah of 2013-14 when he played 80 games, pulled in 11.3 rebounds and had a defensive rating of 96. (His defensive rating last season was 108, a career worst). It’s important to point out that Noah will be 33 years old half way through the NBA season. His body is old, his knees are shot and he is a one dimensional player grabbing rebounds and not guarding anyone. He’s getting paid for being a shell of himself. It annoys Noah how far he has descended but he thinks it is situational.
Last year, he was the 34th best defensive center. The year before he was 17th. In 2014-15 he was ranked 17th. Consistency has faded for the two time All-Star whose best years were under Bulls defensive guru Tom Thibodeau.
“I went through a lot of adversity. You go through injuries. I lost my confidence this year. It’s about bouncing back and showing who I am through these tough times. It can really show what you are made of.”
Noah served a suspension for using a banned substance. He says he accidentally ingested selective androgen receptor modulate LGD 4033. It is similar to anabolic steroids. He was in the midst of his recovery from knee surgery when he made the decision (accidentally) to take the banned substance. He admitted to a level of addiction in which he experienced withdrawal.
“I know I did it because I wanted to be there for the squad and I wanted to be better and I wanted to be alright. I was hurt. So it’s definitely a hell of a learning experience, definitely an uppercut to the face.”
But the question about Noah in 2017-18 with everything we know from the steroids use to the pathetic performance is can we trust him anymore? Noah wants to be better after his humiliation but what can he do to make everyone forget the disaster his season was?
“It’s not about the Knicks fans. It’s about me. About me being comfortable.”
And accountable. And not a statue.
photo via llananba