Jeff Hornacek spoke to reporters following New York Knicks practice Tuesday night and made some statements to confirm what many already knew.
Jeff Hornacek answers questions about the Joakim Noah situation: "I think he's ready to move on and maybe have an opportunity somewhere else." pic.twitter.com/QlwZUyylWQ
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) February 21, 2018
Video courtesy ESPN’s Ian Begley
Jeff Hornacek and Joakim Noah’s relationship is clearly beyond repair. Noah left the team following an altercation with his head coach and on Tuesday, Hornacek gave a clear indication that the high-priced center would not be returning to the team.
When asked about the possibility of Noah not returning to the team, Hornacek told Newsday’s Al Iannazzone, “I think that is the plan.” He would go on to say, “We handled that thing with Jo. It’s not finalized because he’s still on the roster. We’ve dealt with that situation.”
So he’s made it pretty clear that Noah won’t be returning. Whether the Knicks are exploring the option of buying him out or stretching his contract remains to be seen.
There were also strong indications that Hornacek would move towards a more youthful lineup as well. After hearing enough questions about Noah, Hornacek steered the conversation towards the remaining schedule.
“There’s really nothing more to say about it, update it. We’ve moved on. He’s ready to move on and maybe have an opportunity somewhere else. That’s really our focus to go play Orlando. We have 23 games left. We’re trying to get our young guys to step it up. That’s kind of old story and all done with as far as I’m concerned.”
The final 23 games of the season are going to be a long tryout for some of the younger guys on this Knicks roster. It should be interesting to see how guys like Frank Ntilikina and Luke Kornet handle an expanded role.
In addition to the rookies bigger roles, it looks like Emmanuel Mudiay may be in line for the starting point guard position. According to Ian Begley of ESPN, Mudiay was starting with the first unit in practice.
Although the season has not gone as planned, the Knicks may get a shot of life via the youth movement. It’s clear that the organization wants to focus on moving forward for the rest of 2018.