Storyline: Joakim Noah Trade?

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Hornacek was asked about Joakim Noah’s status with the Knicks and how the matter will resolve itself: “I’m not sure,” he said. “In the summer, Scott [Perry, the general manager] and Steve [Mills, the team president] will be talking with him. I guess that’s how it will get resolved.” Noah has been away from the Knicks since getting into a heated exchange with Hornacek in January and won’t be back this season. If the Knicks can’t trade him, they’ll likely stretch his contract and waive him on Sept. 1 to minimize how much they have to pay him in 2019, when they hope to be spenders in free agency.

Noah is unwilling to give up enough of his $72 million contract in a buyout to make it worthwhile for the Knicks to let him free. The Knicks feel there will be better options with Noah down the road — trading him this summer to get his money off the books entirely or, more likely, waiving him via the stretch provision when the magical date of Sept. 1 occurs. On Sept. 1, the calculation changes for the better and would save the Knicks at least $12 million more in cap space in the summer of 2019, when brass is targeting a free-agent splash.

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.

The New York Knicks and center Joakim Noah seem to be at an impasse that may be unrepairable. Noah and Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek were reported to have gotten into a very heated exchange that ended up with Noah being sent home. A league source familiar with the Knicks’ thinking suggested New York may be open to giving up their first-round pick this year to offload Noah without needing to buy him out or carry a monster cap hit. The prevailing thought was the Knicks wouldn’t be bad enough to land one of the gems of the draft class, and with so much youth on the roster now, a one year hit to jettison Noah seems to be at least under consideration.

There’s uncertainty about whether Noah will rejoin the team in New York this week, league sources said. Sources said the Knicks have yet to broach a contract buyout with Noah, but that is an avenue the franchise could pursue should their aggressive trade searches fail. Noah, a two-time All-Star, remains steadfast in his belief that he could help a team and play rotational minutes. So far, Noah — whose return from a league drug suspension this season included a stint in the G League — has yet to gain legitimate minutes in the Knicks’ rotation and remains behind big men Kyle O’Quinn and Willy Hernangomez.

All were virtually unanimous in the assessment that a deal for Joakim Noah is unlikely. “Offer him a buyout. You’ve got to pay him, so see if you can pay him less,” one exec said. “There’s not a team in the league that’s going to take on that contract [more than two years left on a four-year, $72M deal] with his health issues and where he is in his career. To take on his contract, you’d have to give the No. 1 pick every other year for three years.”

Knicks shopping Joakim Noah?

The NBA source said it’s very possible Joakim Noah will not be around when the Knicks resume action at the Garden on Tuesday against the Nets and then play Wednesday in Boston. The Knicks will then travel from Boston to Milwaukee to face the Bucks on Friday. Meanwhile, an NBA source who has spoken to Knicks brass told The Post their effort to trade Noah and his $72 million contract has ramped up. However, in past conversations with teams, the only way clubs would consider taking on Noah’s pact is if the Knicks tossed in their 2018 first-round pick – which is looking more and more like a lottery selection. The Knicks are 4-14 in their last 18 games to fall a season-low seven games below .500 at 21-28.

Joakim Noah may not rejoin the Knicks until next Thursday in Milwaukee, according to a person familiar with the situation. Noah still has family and friends in nearby Chicago and it is where his charity foundation “Noah’s Arc” is located and run by his mother. Unhappy with his invisible role, with the Golden State fiasco the trigger point, Noah has taken a leave of absence and left the club Thursday morning in Denver. The Knicks are hopeful he returns sooner.

The Knicks refuse to part with their potential lottery pick, even if it would open up major salary-cap space in the summers of 2018, 2019 and 2020. Noah will make $18.5 million next season and $19.2 million in 2019-20. The Knicks still plan to ask teams around the league about Noah. Some in the organization feel he can still help the Knicks defensively. Noah left the club Thursday morning in Denver after being “pissed,’’ as one source put it, at being removed in the Golden State game after playing just 4:31 of fourth-quarter garbage time on a night Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn sat out. Noah was visibly upset in the locker room after the game.

One thought — if the Knicks get into the sweepstakes — is giving up their 2019 first-round pick along with Ntilikina in hopes of Charlotte taking on the remaining years of Joakim Noah’s contract. (The Hornets can always use the stretch provision on Noah after the season). Another NBA source added that the Hornets will be asking teams to take back one of their larger contracts like, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, making a Knicks’ match even more unlikely.
1 year ago via ESPN

Sources told Ramona Shelburne and I that Noah’s name came up in multiple discussions about possible Porzingis trades with Jackson and the Knicks looking to send out the remainder of the four-year, $72 million contract that he signed last offseason. Butler factored in because one of the many offers discussed between Boston and the Knicks, per sources, included Boston’s third pick, a second 2017 lottery pick and an additional player (Jaylen Brown, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart were among the names discussed).

Given how Noah has played, it’s extremely unlikely anyone takes on his contract, even though Knicks sources say he’s been great to have around from a locker room and leadership point of view. The future of the Knicks franchise is Kristaps Porzingis, so there is no scenario in which he is moved. Courtney Lee could be a possible trade chip, but like Noah, he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire as a Knick, and he’s owed $36.75 million after this season.

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.’’

Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report says the Bulls have already started testing those trade waters: “League sources say the Chicago Bulls have been checking on interest in one of their three bigs on the front line: Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, and even at one point Pau Gasol. They are looking to get a young talent back, doesn’t matter whether it’s a defensive wing or a genuine stretch four. All of this is being motivated or prompted by the emergence of rookie big man Bobby Portis, who is demonstrating he is ready to take on a role now.”

Pau Gasol available?

The likes of Gibson, Noah and Gasol might not even see the end of their current contracts, as several sources indicated that the Bulls are taking calls on all three players as the trade deadline draws near. Noah’s value has taken a hit this week with a small tear in his left shoulder, and the center told reporters on Wednesday that he is looking at a two-to-four week window now. Not the best news for a player that was starting to look like his old self.

Bulls talking trade?

Overheard on Adrian Wojnarowski’s new podcast, The Vertical (~1hr mark): Executives around the league, and people have told me, that the Bulls are very determined to add a talented wing player. Tony Snell has been given a lot of opportunities and he hasn’t established himself, and I’ve been told that the Bulls are open to… whether it’s Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson… maybe not both of them, but either of them if there’s a deal out there that they can bring in the best possible wing player available, they’re open to it. That’s a direction they’re going to go in. They need more shooting… to shape this team towards more of an offensive-minded group.
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