Noah would not confirm, deny or provide any new details as to why he and Hornacek had to be restrained from fighting last year, saying that “it’s in the past.” However, two sources with direct knowledge of Noah’s blow-up with Hornacek revealed that Noah had been upset one night earlier after playing just four minutes and 20 seconds in a 123-112 loss to the Golden State Warriors. Noah, who had been told that he would get significant time after being held out of the previous 10 games, entered the Warriors game for the first time with 10:09 remaining and the Knicks trailing 100-90. He was replaced by Enes Kanter with 5:38 left to play and the Knicks down 110-94. As Hornacek pulled Noah, he vented his frustration at the coach before taking a seat on the bench.
Jeff Hornacek wouldn’t comment on reports that he pushed Joakim Noah during their heated exchange last month in Denver. But Hornacek gave the strongest indications yet that Noah won’t be back with the Knicks. “I think that is the plan,” Hornacek said following practice Tuesday night.
“That’s something that happened three weeks ago, four weeks ago,” Hornacek said. “We handled that thing with Jo. It’s not finalized because he’s still on the roster. We’ve dealt with that situation. 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.”
The Knicks haven’t suspended Noah, so he’s still getting paid. “Things happen in practice, happen in meetings, happen in all kind of stuff,” Hornacek said. “We’ve dealt with that and that’s the end of it from us.”
Noah was banished from the Knicks after an altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek during a practice last month. The disagreement stemmed from Noah’s lack of playing time, and it turned physical the day after he logged only five minutes against the Warriors. While no punches were thrown, the Daily News learned that Hornacek was the first to shove Noah before they had to be separated.
Adrian Wojnarowski: As the New York Knicks discuss possible trade scenarios, exiled center Joakim Noah won’t be required to return to the team prior to the Feb. 8 trade deadline, league sources tell ESPN. Noah was sent away after a practice confrontation with Jeff Hornacek on Jan. 24.
Joakim Noah will not be with the New York Knicks for their game Wednesday against the Boston Celtics and it remains unclear if or when he will rejoin the team. Noah left the Knicks last week after a lengthy disconnect with coach Jeff Hornacek and his staff that saw at least one run-in between Noah and Hornacek on their recent road trip, per sources.
Noah's recent interactions with Hornacek were bad enough to lead to his leaving the team and it stands to reason that the Knicks might not want Noah back around a club that is young and trying to build a positive culture.
As of Monday, there had been no conversations between the Knicks and Noah about a potential buyout on the remaining three years and $56 million on his contract, per ESPN sources. Sources said Monday that Noah has no inclination to give back significant money on his contract in any buyout with New York and that he was waiting for the Knicks to deliver word whether or not he was welcome back.
Adam Zagoria: Hornacek says Joakim Noah won’t be available tonight or tomorrow. ‘We’ll see from there .’ #Knicks.
On Saturday, Noah was pulled for rookie Willy Hernangomez because he couldn't keep up with Denver's fast pace in the high altitude. "We're not getting off the great starts. That's not on Jo. We're trying to find the right combination to get us going," coach Jeff Hornacek said. "We like his energy, we like what he can do that way. So the time will come, but there are other times where we think, 'You know what? Willy had energy, he didn't look like he was tired at all. So we went with him."
The Knicks have won four of five games to reach the .500 mark at 7-7. Noah was out sick for two of those wins and benched in the second half of another. Coincidence or not, with Noah sidelined by flu-like symptoms, the Knicks have won their last two games vs. Atlanta and Portland – arguably their two best triumphs of the year. Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek hasn’t decided if Noah will start Friday but that’s more because of the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year being weakened by the flu than a big-picture decision. Kyle O’Quinn has started the last two outings.
It should be noted even before Noah’s shoulder injury last season, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg brought Noah off the bench as he started twice in 29 games. There were conflicting reports on whose call it was.
While Noah has posted big rebounding games, he at times has disappeared on offense – to the extreme of being scoreless in three outings. He’s averaging 4.3 points – tenth on the club’s scoring list. To his credit, the Hell’s Kitchen product has been hard on himself, admitting to being “a step slow’’ on defense and “up and down’’ with his performances. He battled injuries in training camp after last season was cut short in January due to shoulder surgery. “There’s still room to grow,” Hornacek said.
The elephant in the room is whether Noah’s contract will haunt Jackson for all four years, considering he already is struggling to find a niche other than rebounding (8.9 per game). The amnesty clause no longer exists and isn’t expected in the new CBA. Noah is 31 and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in September he’s no longer “a front-line center.’’ NBA TV’s Greg Anthony warned about overreacting to Noah’s sluggish start. “I wouldn’t go there,’’ Anthony told The Post. “When you have a unique understanding of the game like he does, he still has a lot of good years left. I’m not yet concerned about him.’’
June 23, 2021 | 5:32 am EDT Update
Sullivan is the author of “Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic, and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets’ Superstars of Tomorrow,” which released on Tuesday. In a conversation with our friends from Celtics Wire on their podcast, Celtics Lab, Sullivan said that Nets ownership was unhappy with Irving over his midseason “pause,” and that Irving could be available for the right offer.
Matt Sullivan: “Let me give you guys a little news, I’m not sure that’s been out there. I’ve heard that Nets ownership was quite upset with Kyrie’s ‘pause,’ especially that maskless party that turned his psuedo-paternity leave into more like a COVID suspension. And in the last week I’ve heard rumblings – whispers, really, because cracking the Nets is kind of like breaking into the Kremlin, that Brooklyn GM Sean Marks would maybe, possibly, apparently be willing to at least listen to a trade offer for Kyrie this offseason. Now, I’m not sure what the market for Kyrie is at this point. It’s not like Ben Simmons giving you the headache on the court. It’s that complex personality that comes from off the court. I think it’s been annoying some people in the franchise. I can’t speak to his teammates, who obviously want to play with one of the world’s best and get him back there.”
Deandre Ayton couldn’t stop smiling after the Phoenix Suns’ 104-103 win on Tuesday gave them a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals over the LA Clippers. The big man wore a permagrin as he basked in the joy that came from dunking home the go-ahead bucket in the game’s final second, finishing one of the most dramatic alley-oops in NBA playoff history, but he didn’t want any of the credit. “I’ll start off by saying that’s definitely Jae [Crowder’s] game winner, making a great pass for a 7-footer,” Ayton said after his dunk with 0.7 seconds left lifted his final line to 24 points on 12-for-15 shooting and 14 rebounds.
No wonder Ayton said he completed the best play of his three-year NBA career after finishing with 24 points, 14 rebounds and one memorable lob that gave the Suns a 2-0 series lead. “I never played so hard from the jump ball to the end, 150%,” Ayton said. “Usually it’s like 110%, but tonight it’s 150% and it’s 150% mentally. Just the level of focus and the things you have to really pay attention to, it’s really intense.”
And the production has been eye-popping. Per Elias Sports Bureau research, this postseason Ayton is the first player in the shot clock era (since 1954-55) with a 70% or better field goal percentage in any 12-game postseason span. He has had five 20-point, 10-rebound games this postseason, the most by a Suns player since Amar’e Stoudemire in 2007. “I’ve never played so hard from the jump ball to the end,” Ayton said. “A hundred and fifty percent. Usually, it’s like 110, but this is 150%. And it’s 150% mentally, too. Just the level of focus and the things you really have to pay attention to. It’s really intense, man.”
The cloud of the 2018 draft doesn’t follow Ayton. He has admitted in the past to being sensitive to perception and criticism, but put all of it behind him. “At the end of the day, we’re all different players,” Ayton said of comparisons to Doncic and Young. “I’m a 7-footer, big man, and they’re two point guards. I don’t know what you can compare. But me, I play as hard as I can. This is my team. I dominate the best way I can for this team and try to take this team as far as I can. Other than that, I trust my work, I trust my work ethic, I trust my craft.”
But with a chance to give them a three-point lead with 8.2 seconds left, George surprisingly missed both free throws despite coming into this game making 89.2% from the free throw line this postseason. “I’m not going to put too much on that,” George said afterward. “Obviously it was an opportunity that was missed. Pat made an unbelievable play that put me in position to extend the lead. I’m always confident at the free throw line. I’ve always been very successful in clutch moments at the free throw line.”
Meanwhile, the Clippers failed to capitalize on a game that was there for the taking, and now trail 2-0 for a third straight series this postseason. “This game, I’ve played a lot of games in this league, this one’s hard,” said Beverley, who got the start in Game 2. “This one goes up there. This is a hard game to kind of swallow because you look at this game, I mean, we got this game won, you know. “But we’ve been in the trenches before. We respond well in the trenches. We’ll respond well. We always do.”