New York Knicks-Atlanta Hawks Preview: Joakim Noah vs. Dwight Howard
Nov 20, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee (5) passes in front of Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks visit the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday in a matchup of two of last year’s marquee free agents, Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah.

  • New York Knicks (16-14)
  • Atlanta Hawks (15-16)
  • Wednesday, Dec. 28, 7:30 p.m. ET on MSG Network
  • Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

When Robin Lopez was shipped out to Chicago, it left a huge hole in the New York Knicks frontcourt. Suddenly the team’s greatest area of need shifted from point guard to center. The rumored candidates to fill Lopez’s spot were Joakim Noah and Dwight Howard.

The Knicks went with Noah and Howard ended up with his hometown Atlanta Hawks. According to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, Howard was never an option for New York in the first place.

The eight-time All-Star claims his reported interest in the bright lights of New York City was completely false.

“I never said that. I love New York, the Knicks are a great team. But that was something that was a lie,” said Howard, who drew interest from the Celtics and Blazers, among other teams, in free agency. “That was a rumor that was being put out there. Like I said, I have no issues with New York or the fans or the people there, but it’s just something I’ve never said.”

Noah’s poor performance has left Knicks fans wondering what could’ve been. Howard’s comments provide a little closure. Their team was never even in the running. It was always Noah.

The Knicks already have a home win over the Hawks from back in November. That one came without Noah in the lineup. New York has been a better team this season, but Howard has clearly been the better player.

We compared the individual 2016-17 performances of the two highly-paid centers.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.