Knicks center Joakim Noah, who has been away from the team since a heated verbal exchange with coach Jeff Hornacek on Jan. 24, “won’t be required to return” before the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline, reports ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski:
The Knicks and Noah’s representation discussed his status Wednesday and agreed that Noah would stay away from the team until the front office can exhaust any trade possibilities between now and the deadline, league sources said.
Noah (1.7 points, 2.0 rebounds) has appeared in just seven games this season, but the three years, $54 million remaining on his contract make it difficult for the Knicks to move him.
According to Wojnarowski, it is “unclear” how the Knicks and Noah will proceed if the deadline passes without a deal.
The Knicks could try to negotiate a contract buyout with Noah and his agent Bill Duffy, but Noah’s camp isn’t motivated to give back guaranteed money on his contract without at least a clear avenue to make it back elsewhere as a free agent.
If the Knicks choose to waive Noah using the NBA’s stretch provision, the franchise would owe him $7.5 million over five seasons as opposed to $18.5 million in 2018-19 and $19.3 million in the final year of his contract. Stretching Noah’s contract would cut into New York’s cap space in summers in which the organization is hopeful of landing top free agents.