Joakim Noah signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Knicks that seemed like a mistake from the moment the contract ink was printed back in 2016. It turns out that Noah was as unprepared for New York as many in the fan base were in accepting his large contract.
Noah ended up playing only 53 games for the Knicks, before being banished from the team last February after an altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek.
“When I got kicked off the team, it was New York fashion week and I was getting a lot of money and I had no direction,” Noah said in an in-studio appearance on the Chris Vernon show. “I really had to make a decision of how I wanted to live my life. If I kept going on the direction I was going in and stayed in New York, then I probably wouldn’t be here right now.”
The Knicks decided to waive Noah in September. The final year of his contract is stretched over three seasons, providing the Knicks with near-term cap savings in 2019 at the expense of an extra cap hit over the subsequent two seasons.
Listening to Joakim Noah talk to Chris Vernon, you can understand why, beyond the financial implications, the Knicks’ front office might not have wanted him to be a role model for their young core of prospects. According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, both Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina were told not to go out with Noah.
“I can look back on it and say I thought I was ready for New York City, and I wasn’t. It’s something I have to live with,” Noah tells Chris Vernon.
“I remember after the first game, I probably had, like, 60 people at my house,” Noah explained. “I’m lit. I’m too lit to play in New York City. Memphis is perfect for me. Chicago … we were lit in Chicago, but I was young. You recover faster, you know?”
Noah ended up signing with the Memphis Grizzlies, where he is trying to find new life after nearly falling off the deep end in New York.
“I’m getting paid millions of dollars, and I have nothing to do [after being banished by the Knicks last February], and I’m 32 years old. I had to lock in and set a routine for myself … ’cause partying and being an athlete, they don’t go hand in hand.”
Let’s hope both the Knicks and Joakim Noah learned their lessons.