NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Joakim Noah’s leave of absence from the Knicks might be longer than initially expected.
The Knicks center left the team Thursday for “personal reasons,” and coach Jeff Hornacek indicated Noah might only miss two games — Thursday’s loss at Denver and Friday’s game at Phoenix.
However, the New York Post reported Friday, citing a person familiar with the situation, that Noah might not rejoin the team until next Thursday in Milwaukee, which means he’d miss two additional contests.
A source told the Post that Noah was “pissed” about only playing 4½ minutes in Tuesday’s loss to Golden State, a game in which both Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn missed.
Hornacek declined to confirm Thursday whether Noah’s departure was over his playing time.
“We’re not going to comment on that stuff,” he said. “Personal reasons. He won’t be with us for a couple of games. He works hard to keep himself in shape. He’s professional that way. It’s always tough when you want to play.”
Noah has appeared in just seven games and has averaged just 5.7 minutes in those outings. A former All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year with the Chicago Bulls, Noah, 32, 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. He now sits behind centers Enes Kanter, O’Quinn and Willy Hernangomez on the depth chart.
An NBA source told the Post that the Knicks have ramped up efforts to trade Noah, but his salary, predictably, has been a roadblock. According to the report, teams have said they would only take on Noah’s contract if the Knicks surrendered their 2018 first-round draft pick. New York has reportedly balked at that request. After dropping 14 of their last 18 games, the Knicks could be in line to have a lottery pick.