The New York Knicks already acquired a former Chicago Bulls MVP, and are on the verge of bringing in another former award-winner from the Windy City. One problem: This is the year 2016.
Shams Charania of The Vertical reports that Joakim Noah is expected to sign a four-year, approximately $70 million deal with the Knicks after the sides reconvene on Friday afternoon. Multiple other sources have confirmed the intel, too.
Noah, the Defensive Player of the Year and third-place finisher in MVP voting just two years ago, is coming off the worst season of his stellar career. He played just 29 games in 2015-16 after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in January, and was clearly limited by lingering left knee pain gleaned from a previous surgery even before being sidelined for the season’s majority.
The 31 year old still has value when healthy. Spatial defenders and interior passers of his esteem are rare, and the influence he has on a locker room can’t be discounted, either. But a post-injury Noah is still severely limited offensively, lacks the explosion to protect the rim like he did at his peak, and just can’t be expected to stay on the floor for a lion’s share of the 82-game schedule.
More problematic than adding Noah in a vacuum are the terms of his potential new deal. Partial justification for the aforementioned Rose trade was New York gaining the ability to bring a pair of max-level free agents into the fold next summer. That won’t be a possibility with Noah on the books for some $18 million, a salary the Knicks will apparently be paying him as he enters his mid-30s.
Another issue is what this means for the development of Kristaps Porzingis. Some of the optimism gleaned from Jeff Hornacek’s hiring was the possibility the über-talented seven-footer would play significant time at center beginning this season. But just how many minutes will be left over for Porzingis to slide down a position with a high-priced center on the roster?
Well, perhaps more than this contract suggests considering Noah’s injury history and objectively poor recent performance.