Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck linked the New York Knicks to Joakim Noah. Should that be their top priority?
In a league where the big man has become a pariah, the New York Knicks are one of few teams reportedly interested in a center — a position the team filled last season.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Noah, who won the 2014-15 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, told teammates
“he has no trust in the front office getting [the Bulls] in the right direction.” The 31-year-old center is coming off of one of his worst seasons since his rookie career, averaging only 4.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
Noah missed 53 games following a season-ending shoulder surgery. He collected a $13.4 million salary over the 2015-16 season.
The Knicks signed Robin Lopez to a four-year deal worth $54 million last summer. Lopez proved well worth his contract, providing timely scoring, rebounding and interior defense for a 32-50 New York team.
LRT: If Noah's leaving Bulls, expect Knicks to make a strong pitch. Phil Jackson and Noah have a rapport. And Noah has NY roots.
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 25, 2016
Adding another big man would clog New York’s frontcourt, which already includes Lopez, Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony, Kyle O’Quinn and Derrick Williams. The Knicks also have a gaping hole in its backcourt.
Arron Afflalo can opt out of his contract and test free agency in June. He was relegated to a bench role down the latter stretch of the season in favor of Sasha Vujacic, who also becomes a free agent next month.
It is unclear is Afflalo will opt into his final year, however, it should be noted his benching occurred under interim head coach Kurt Rambis. New York is expected to make Jeff Hornacek’s hiring official in the coming weeks.
The Knicks will have at least $18.9 million in cap space for this summer’s free agency. That number could be up to $30 million if both Afflalo and Williams opt out to test free agency. Given the projected salary cap spike, Noah will command at least a yearly salary of $10 million. It is also unclear if the former Bulls big man will accept a reserve role.
New York has bigger issues than adding a familiar face to the team. The roster does not complement Hornacek’s up-tempo offensive system and the starting point guard has yet to be identified.
This summer’s free agent class features a few noteworthy backcourt players, including Rajon Rondo, Mike Conley, DeMar DeRozan, Bradley Beal (restricted), Eric Gordon, Kent Bazemore and Lance Stephenson.
Going after Noah in free agency, unless the team has plans to deal Lopez, will inhibit New York’s ability to sign multiple guards this off-season. And if the Knicks don’t land backcourt help, they will be mired in mediocrity for another year.
Kristian Winfield covers the New York Knicks for ESNY. You can start the conversation with him on Twitter @Krisplashed.