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Here’s how the mathematics work. On Sept. 1, Noah will be deemed to have one remaining year on his pact after the current season. Hence, on that date, if waived under the stretch provision, the $19.2 million left would be stretched over three years — counting against the cap in the summers of 2019, 2020 and 2021. That amounts to about $6.5 million each year. As for the Knicks’ 2019 cap savings, instead of having $19.2 million count on the cap, the number would be $6.5 million. In exchange, the Knicks would have Noah count against the cap for an additional two summers.
According to sources, there are teams interested in signing Noah for the playoffs — including the Timberwolves — but only as a free agent on a minimum deal. That would require the Knicks to waive Noah before midnight Thursday. New York tried to trade Noah but his contract was deemed prohibitive without assets attached.
Joakim Noah may never suit up again for the Knicks, but the exiled center will have plenty of desirable options should he negotiate a buyout with the club. According to league sources, several playoff-bound teams are closely monitoring Noah’s situation in New York and would push to sign him if Noah becomes a free agent.
The Warriors, Timberwolves and Thunder are three such teams that believe Noah, who turns 33 on Sunday, could bolster their respective rosters for the postseason. Minnesota is an obvious one since it would reunite Noah with his former coach with the Chicago Bulls, Tom Thibodeau. Golden State and Oklahoma City also feel that Noah’s experience and defensive prowess would solidify their respective benches.
Noah called Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, President Michael Reinsdorf, executive vice president John Paxson, general manager Gar Forman and other organizational members when his nine-season run with the Bulls ended. But it’s also clear the Knicks leaped to the forefront of his free-agency choices as soon as the Bulls traded close friend Derrick Rose to the Knicks on June 22. “When the Derrick trade went down, it was for a center, for Robin (Lopez),” Noah said. “So I knew that there was going to be a (Knicks) need for a center. I remember my agent telling me this team was going to be an option and this team was going to be an option. And I couldn’t even think about anything but playing for New York. My mind was already set on where I wanted to play. It made too much sense — hometown, Derrick, Phil (Jackson), just everything. For me, it’s like a dream come true.”
Joakim Noah joked that he hasn’t taken his Knicks cap off since he signed a four-year, $72 million deal with his hometown team last month. “I think the Bulls-Knicks games are going to be good ones,” Noah said, smiling. “I’m looking forward to it. I think everybody is. It’s going to be a very competitive game with a lot of emotions. I’m trying to stay in the moment and focus on being as healthy as possible.”
It was clear during an interview last week in his Chicago residence, with its sweeping views of Lake Michigan and the skyline, that leaving the Bulls in the right way was important to him. “I have no anger towards nobody,” Noah said. “If we had a couple rough years at the end, I’m just still so grateful for the opportunity the Bulls gave me. It’s like a family to me. Even though it’s a new chapter for the end of my career to be in New York, I think Chicago is always going to be a home to me. Everywhere I go in this city, it’s always love. If I’m walking in the airport, wherever I am and someone’s from Chicago, it’s never animosity or negative or why did you leave us? It’s always very appreciative. And it’s humbling. I know free agency is a business. But I feel I always show a lot of respect for this city and its people. And I get love back for it. And it feels good.”
About five years ago, Noah says that he paid a visit to Phil Jackson at the Zen Master’s Montana retreat, after Jackson had left the Lakers’ bench and was semi-retired. The trip, which was sparked by mutual friends of both Noah and Jackson, now seems to have been a hint of things to come. “My father used to make me read (Jackson’s) books when I was a kid. I hate reading books, but I read his books,” says Noah. “I had an opportunity to go to Montana and meet (Jackson). So I took the plane, went to Montana, and I knock on his door. We start talking and he goes, ‘Why are you here?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ It was a great couple days. I got an opportunity to meet one of the legends and spend time with him. Life works in mysterious ways. Now we’re here.”
“I’ve been injured for the last couple years. It sucks. As an athlete, trust me, there’s nothing more I want than to be on the court. It doesn’t matter what anybody writes. At the end of the day, nobody cares about this s— more than me. I know. I’m the one putting in the work every day,” says Noah. “I’m going to be very passionate about this. And I always have been and always will. This is where I want to end my career, (play) ‘till the wheels fall off. Playing in this uniform means everything to me.”
“What a blessing. I feel like a rookie all over again,” says Noah, 31, as microphones and cameras record his every word and move during his Knicks introductory press conference, in which he sports a baseball cap with the logo “New York Made” on the front. “There’s definitely a buzz in the city. I think it’s on us to make it work. Winning in the Garden, I’m not gonna get a feeling like that anywhere else. I’m not here to just get a check and be happy. I want to be an animal. I want to make the city proud,” says Noah.
Sometime after launching his Twitter feed in 2013, Jackson followed Noah, presumably because his intangibles-laden game, at full speed, is a Jacksonian blueprint for what basketball should be at its kumbaya best. “That might have been the best passing game I’ve ever seen from a center,” said Mike Breen, who, with Jeff Van Gundy, called the Chicago Bulls’ 109-90 Noah-led slaughter of Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks for ABC at United Center.
Can he be all that again after all those hard minutes played in Chicago over nine years? “After Chicago made him come off the bench to start last season before he hurt the shoulder, the Knicks are betting on his pride, to prove himself still one of the league’s premier centers,” Van Gundy said. “The length of the contract they’re talking about is scary, but if he’s healthy, you’re getting a really smart, tenacious player and as good a frontcourt passer as there is.”
Marc Berman: Jeff Hornacek and Clarence Gaines have arrived for Joakim Noah here in Orlando Disney resort. They’re going for steak. https://t.co/Mg4T1Jz23P
KC Johnson: Not surprising given his character: Noah had dialogue with people in Bulls organization today and thanked them for 9-year run.
Joakim Noah: Jah bless instagram.com/p/BHVHvdShpty
Shams Charania: Vertical Sources: Joakim Noah and the New York Knicks are in discussions on the framework of a deal in range of four years, $70M-plus.
The Vertical: Adrian Wojnarowski: Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah recruiting Kevin Durant. Knicks a longshot.
Yannis Koutroupis: Noah to NY does seem like a foregone conclusion. Gotta give props to Phil Jackson. High risk, but he was overdue for a splash.
Marc Stein: The phrasing tends to be the same from every team we ask with Joakim Noah interest: We don’t have a chance because the Knicks are his choice
Marc Berman: Source says Joakim Noah-#Knicks meeting will be Friday in the day – not at the midnight hour.
Sam Amick: Quick clarification: Noah expected to consider/communicate w/ three teams, but the Knicks meeting is the only one scheduled at this point.
Marc J. Spears: Word is Noah loves his hometown NY dearly & dreams of playing for NYK. Saw him walking around NY smiling last week. twitter.com/espnsteinline/…
The New York Knicks have emerged as strong favorites to sign free-agent big man Joakim Noah, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN.com that multiple teams interested in Noah have all but conceded already that the Knicks are his runaway preferred destination in free agency.
ESPN reported last week that Golden State is “all-in” on the pursuit of Durant, but sources said this week that the 2015 champions plan to retain Barnes and try to sign a proven big man — sources say Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, David West and Timofey Mozgov are all potential targets — if Durant stays with Oklahoma City or chooses to sign with another team.
Ian Begley: The Knicks are interested in Joakim Noah, but he isn’t the only big man on their radar. Another center some in the Knicks organization are high on is Timofey Mozgov, per league sources. The interest between Noah and the Knicks is strong and mutual. But Mozgov, an ex-Knick, provides an interesting alternative. With Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis on the roster, the Knicks probably won’t need a high-scoring center. Mozgov doesn’t need touches and would provide mobile rim protection and rebounding. He also compares favorably to Noah in some categories (age: Mozgov is 29, Noah is 31; recent health: Noah was limited to 29 games last season due to a left shoulder injury).
The positive feelings between Joakim Noah and the Knicks are mutual. According to an NBA source, the Knicks have “a very high interest” in signing Noah to play center in a frontcourt that would feature Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Another NBA source said Noah is eager for at least a sitdown with the Knicks.
Gar Forman insisted on draft night that the Bulls have every intention to sit down with free agent Joakim Noah and discuss the future come July 1. They need not bother. A source close to the situation not only shot down a report last month that the Bulls and Noah were having early “positive dialogue’’ on coming back together, but reiterated a Sun-Times story from late May in which Noah was telling teammates that he had no trust in the direction the front office was taking the team. So chalk up Forman’s optimism to the Bulls general manager simply trying to win the press conference.
According to the source, Noah and his agent, Bill Duffy, have already been gathering information on possible destinations, with a specific priority list in mind. First and foremost, Noah wants a chance to win. Followed closely by a chance to start, as well as finish games, and also a team that will continue to get behind his Noah’s Arc Foundation.
While several on the outside have speculated that Noah would simply go for the money, the source called that “naïve.’’ “They obviously don’t know Jo’s make-up,’’ the source said.
The Knicks are desperate for a starting center — their top target is Joakim Noah — and a starting shooting guard after the Derrick Rose blockbuster. They are also desperate to fill out a 15-man roster within the confines of the salary cap. They have just five players under contract.
J. Michael Falgoust: The Wizards are NOT going to offer, nor have plans to, Joakim Noah a max deal, I can confirm. #WizardsTalk @CSNWizards
J. Michael Falgoust: A league source on Wizards’ supposed max deal plan for Noah — and refuting it. “it sounds absolutely ridiculous” #WizardsTalk @CSNWizards
According to sources familiar with free agent talks, the Warriors are looking at Al Horford, Joakim Noah and even Hassan Whiteside. The contract demands might be too hefty but the goal is clear. The Warriors can’t thrive with a center that doesn’t attack the rim or score inside.
He has no intentions of re-signing in Chicago and is ready to move on, according to a source.
According to sources, the Wiz are locked in on making a major offer to Joakim Noah. The Wizards are said to be willing to offer Noah, coming off shoulder surgery that KO’d him in January, a full maximum contract. His deal would start at $28 million and reach around $120 million over four seasons. Yeah, it’ll be that kind of crazy money for the soon-to-be former Chicago Bull. The Wizards are prepared to go all out for the 2014 NBA Defensive Player of the Year because they have glaring holes up front and already are anticipating having to win an intense bidding war.
Three other teams — the Knicks, Timberwolves and Bucks — are also planning to make substantial offers to Noah, who played only 29 games last season before suffering a shoulder injury. If the Bulls come calling, he probably won’t even take their call.
Noah also has a big fan in Jason Kidd, who has soured on Greg Monroe, only one season into a deal that has two seasons to run. The Bucks tried to trade him in recent days, but the Celtics and other teams had no interest. Kidd has told associates he thinks Noah’s toughness and experience will greatly help his young rising stars, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. He’ll have to convince Noah, though, that he can be happy relocating to a small market.
Ian Begley: There are people in the Knicks organization who’d like to pursue Joakim Noah in free agency. And the interest seems to be mutual. People familiar with the situation say the Knicks are one team that Noah will be interested in in free agency. It will be key to find a contract that works for both sides, obviously.
The Knicks, as Jackson and coach Jeff Hornacek acknowledged, are now in the market for a center and a shooting guard. Jackson, as reported by the Daily News, told Rose that the Knicks will be making a run at top free agent Kevin Durant. In terms of a center, which is the deepest position in the 2016 free agent class, the options include Joakim Noah, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. The Knicks are expected to sign Willy Hernangomez, their 2015 second-round pick, as the back-up center.
With Derrick Rose on board, some in the Knicks organization want to make a run at Bulls center – and soon to be free agent – Joakim Noah, sources say. Noah is close with Rose and has a good relationship with Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
Michael Scotto: Sources: In addition to the Knicks, the Nets also have interest in free agent Joakim Noah. He attended Brooklyn’s Poly Prep HS for two years
KC Johnson: Bulls still plan to sit down with Joakim Noah come July 1. What’s crazy is Knicks make sense for Noah. So do Lakers.
The Magic’s strategy, a source told Sporting News recently, will involve luring former Florida Gators back to Central Florida. That means former Gator champs Joakim Noah and Al Horford, but also includes Mavericks small forward Chandler Parsons, who will be a free agent this summer, too.
Darren Wolfson: Free agency buzz, which comes fast: can add the Wizards to the list of teams with interest in Noah. He’ll have a few suitors. #twolves
Sportando: This will be your first time as a free-agent, are you already thinking about that or are you taking your time? Noah: I’m very focused on free-agency. I spent the last 10 years in Chicago, there were good moments and bad moments but now I have an incredible opportunity for a player, being recruited by a team, I definitely want to live that kind of experience. It’s new for me but it’s something very intriguing for a player.
Sportando: So are you going to consider other offers, right? Noah: Sure. I’ll consider every offer on the table, no doubt. Sportando: ‘How was for you emotionally this season? Noah: Terrible. I was very disappointed, I played little minutes and then I got injured and the team didn’t reach the expectations. Very bad season but you need to learn from these things to become better.
League sources tell Sporting News that Thibodeau has targeted Joakim Noah, who is an unrestricted free agent and has interest in leaving Chicago and re-joining Thibodeau. When they were together in Chicago, Noah developed and thrived under Thibodeau, finishing fourth in the MVP voting in 2013-14.
Which of these landing spots would you see as most likely for Joakim Noah: (a) stay in Chicago (b) join Thibs in Minnesota. (c) join Billy Donovan in Oklahoma City. (d) Join the Knicks (e) other. Steve Kyler: I was told he’d be open to staying in Chicago… but I don’t think any of the scenarios you mentioned is more likely than the other. I don’t see the Thunder having the cap space to sign Noah. The last thing they need is another big. I also doubt Phil Jackson blows his cap cash on Noah either.
Howard Beck: LRT: If Noah’s leaving Bulls, expect Knicks to make a strong pitch. Phil Jackson and Noah have a rapport. And Noah has NY roots.
Veteran Bulls center Joakim Noah, his representatives and the Chicago front office continue to have a “positive dialogue” about a new contract amid a report that Noah has been telling teammates he’s ready to leave the franchise, a league source told ESPN.com on Wednesday. Those close to Noah, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, are still hopeful that he will be able to work out an agreement to stay in Chicago long term.
But Noah’s appreciation for being a one-franchise player is genuine, as is his love for the city in which his Noah’s Arc Foundation has done extensive work promoting nonviolence initiatives for youth. Duffy spoke in part to respond to a Sun-Times story stating Noah has told teammates he’s done with the Bulls. “He has great respect for the city, the fans and the organization,” Duffy said.
KC Johnson: Bill Duffy, Joakim Noah’s agent: “Joakim and I speak on daily about his future. There has been zero indication he doesn’t wish to return to Bulls. Joakim has great respect for the city, the fans and the organization.”
Joakim Noah may have belted out his last primal scream in a Bulls uniform. According to a Bulls player, Noah has been telling teammates the last few weeks that he was done with the organization once free agency begins, and “has no trust in the front office getting this in the right direction.’’
Noah, who is one of the more charitable players in the entire NBA, had become so annoyed with Forman that he actually turned down a chance to help Bulls Charities earlier this season. According to the player, Noah was approached by Leslie Forman – Gar’s wife, as well as the VP of Bulls Charities – to take place in “some auction where he would have to ride around town with the winner or something like that.” Noah didn’t like the way he was approached and pressured, so flatly said no. “Not like Jo at all,’’ the player said.
Paxson on Noah: “Jo’s an unrestricted free agent, as is Pau. We’ve got several of those on our roster. A lot of that, this is up to them. We are going to sit down with Jo obviously, his agent, and talk and see. Anyone who has been around us, anybody who has spoken to either Gar or I about Joakim, they know how we feel about him. He represents a lot of things that we believe in. To me, he’s one of the most genuine people I’ve ever been around in this business, as far as people go. So we have an affinity for Jo. But we’ve got to talk, we’ve got to see where it goes.”
Though front-office meetings have yet to finalize the Bulls’ Plan A for this offseason, there is strong internal desire to re-sign Noah on a short-term deal. Noah long has been a favorite player and ambassador of Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Executive vice president John Paxson drafted Noah, and their bond is genuine.
It will take work, not to mention money, to win back Noah, who disliked the false story Fred Hoiberg spread at the start of the season that he volunteered to come off the bench. He then disliked playing just 20 minutes per game and not finishing them more.
A shakeup is inevitable, and it’s already begun. Noah is done for the season with a shoulder injury. He is expected to walk at the end of the season via free agency. Pau Gasol could, too. The Bulls want to play faster, be more offensively versatile under Hoiberg and neither big man appears to fit that mold.
Nick Friedell: Gar Forman also discussed impact Joakim Noah’s absence has had on team. As for the future: “We’re optimistic that Joakim will want to remain a Bull.”
He is an unrestricted free agent following the season and his return is in doubt as the Bulls’ roster figures to get an overhaul during the summer. Still, Noah expressed a desire to return to the Bulls. “I hope so,” he said. “Right now, I’m not trying to focus on the future. I just had season-ending surgery last week but this is all I know. I’m looking forward to see what the guys are doing and just right now it’s all about taking a step back and just focusing on getting healthy and then we’ll go from there.”
Noah acknowledged that suffering such a devastating injury with free agency looming is not an ideal situation. “It’s not easy but I know there are people out there it’s a lot harder for (so) I’m not complaining,” Noah said. “It’s all about how you bounce back. I just want to prove that I have a lot more basketball in me. It’s very humbling to go through injuries. As an athlete, the last thing you want to prepare yourself for a long season and then get hurt. But it’s part of it. It’s tough but I’ll bounce back.”
Nick Friedell: Noah says he is still hopeful to be with the Bulls next season.
Vincent Goodwill: Noah just spoke to the media. Said he would like to return to Chicago but he’s not thinking about free agency
Steve Kyler: I don’t think anyone gives Noah a long-term deal a big $… but a two years at $50-55m may be too rich for Chicago. twitter.com/fredtastical/s…
Noah is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and given his declining play, some have suggested a mutual breakup is likely. Noah was asked about his future with the team in a recent interview with David Axelrod, a former political advisor to Barack Obama. “I think that right now it’s just about staying focused on right now,” Noah said. “I know it sounds like a politician but it’s the truth. If I start thinking about that I’m going to drive myself crazy.”
Q: What is it going to be like for you facing Donovan in the NBA? Joakim Noah: I just know I’m going to want to win really bad. Not because I’m playing against Coach Donovan; I love Coach Donovan, obviously. He’s like a father figure to me. Somebody that I’ve gone through a lot with. My time with him as a coach was the best time of my life, and it was a lot more than just basketball.
Q: What do you think you learned most from him? Joakim Noah: I think Coach Donovan is somebody who cares about his players, but really cares about his guys. I know that if something ever happened to me, I know that he would be there for me, and that’s a great feeling. I always felt like it was more than basketball with Coach Donovan. He’s the best coach that I ever had. I got nothing but love for him. I have nothing bad to say about him. I think that he’s somebody who has great balance in his life … we’re very similar in a lot of ways in terms of competitiveness. But very different, as well. I love the guy.
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September 20, 2018 | 9:58 pm EDT Update
So you mentioned the smoother lead up to the season perhaps giving you guys a more energetic vibe early. But do you still view motivation as the biggest challenge — keeping these guys motivated throughout the season? Steve Kerr: “Well, it’s inevitable when you’re staring at the long haul. It’s a nine-month season if you get to the Finals. It’s inevitable you’ll have to deal with some of that. I think this year presents some other challenges that are more healthy. For example: Fitting DeMarcus into the group once he’s ready to play will be a really good challenge for us. It’s an intellectual challenge for our guys because you’re not plugging in a standstill 3-point shooter. You’re plugging in an All-Star player who can dominate a game with the ball. It’s a bigger challenge to figure out how the piece fits and what combinations are going to work best. So I like the challenge and I think the players will embrace that challenge. Whereas last year always felt like autopilot. As long as we were healthy, we always kind of knew what we were going to do. We had a formula. We just kind of went for nine months. There will be more variety this year.”
Do you have any read on where DeMarcus is health-wise right now? I know he won’t be ready for the start of camp next week, but how much do you think he’ll be able to do, how much will be around the practice portions? Steve Kerr: “Well, he’s been around the last few weeks. He rehabbed in Las Vegas over the summer, but he’s been here (in the Bay Area) the last few weeks, settling into his new home and new life. He’s on the court every day working. He’s so skilled. He’s got such great hands, shoots the ball so well, fantastic passer. He’s been working on all that stuff. So he’ll do as much as he can during camp and that will be decided by our training staff, headed by Rick Celebrini and Drew Yoder. We’ll confer with them every day.”
There’s the typical way an NBA team signs a free agent: Team reaches out to said free agent, makes an offer and player accepts. And then there’s the Briante Weber way, the proactive path that led him back to South Florida for a second tour with the Heat. Weber, unemployed this summer after stints last season with Houston and Memphis, decided that the Heat would be the best place to jump-start his career. And so Weber made calls. Not one, not two, but enough to reach virtually everyone of importance he knew within the organization.
“I reached out to the whole Heat coaching staff from top to bottom,” Briante Weber said at Bam Adebayo’s culinary charity event last week. “I reached out to [Heat vice president/player personnel] Adam Simon. I reached to [Erik Spoelstra] and [assistant], Dan Craig, even coach O [Octavio De La Grana]. I reached out to the whole coaching staff and told them my style of play fits here and you guys showed me how to be a pro. I want to come back here and pay dividends and show you what I’ve learned over the years and show you I belong. They gave me an opportunity so I am here to show them what I can do again.”