NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is no end in sight to Joakim Noah’s absence from the Knicks.
According to multiple reports citing a team official, the Knicks and Noah have mutually agreed that the center will not be back with the team until further notice.
Noah has been away from the Knicks since he was reportedly sent home following a heated verbal exchange with coach Jeff Hornacek during a Jan. 24 practice in Denver. A source told the New York Post that Noah was upset about only playing 4½ minutes the night before in a loss to Golden State, a game that both Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn missed.
Officially, the Knicks said Noah’s absence, which includes four games to date, was due to “personal reasons.”
The Knicks have ramped up efforts to trade Noah, but they’re also considering buying out his contract, Yahoo reported Monday.
Noah’s salary — he’s owed roughly $45 million through the 2019-20 season — is an obvious obstacle in trade talks. According to the Post, teams have said they would only take on Noah’s contract if the Knicks surrendered their 2018 first-round draft pick, an offer New York has balked at. After dropping 15 of their last 21 games, the Knicks (23-29) could be in line for a lottery pick.
The NBA trade deadline is Thursday.
Hornacek, however, did not rule out the possibility that Noah could eventually return to the Knicks.
“At this point, these are the guys here,’’ Hornacek said at practice Friday in Milwaukee, according to the Post. “We have to move on with the guys now. We’ll see what happens going forward.
Noah has appeared in just seven games and has averaged 5.7 minutes in those outings. A two-time All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year with the Chicago Bulls, Noah has been a colossal disappointment since signing a four-year, $72.6 million contract with the Knicks in June 2016.
Injuries and a suspension for using a banned supplement limited him to just 46 games last season, when he averaged 5.0 points and 8.8 rebounds. His suspension overlapped into this season, costing him the first 12 games. Noah now sits behind centers Enes Kanter, O’Quinn and Willy Hernangomez on the depth chart.