In a press conference with several reporters, Knicks President Steve Mills made his most direct statement about the decision to waive and stretch Joakim Noah by making it clear that signing him wasn’t his idea and there was more than just financial reasons for why they cut him loose when they did.
“There was a reason why we thought that this was the best thing for the culture and the environment of our team,” Mills said, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “When the speculation was why don’t we handle Joakim one way and we decided to handle it a different way, there was a reason why we handled it the way we decided to handle it.”
Joakim Noah admitted during an interview with Chris Vernon that he was “too lit” for New York City, alluding to his partying routine.
“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 … I remember after the first game, I probably had, like, 60 people at my house,” Noah explained to Vernon.
“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?”
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.
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, both Kristaps Porzingis and Frank Ntilikina were told not to go out with Noah when he was still with the team.
The Knicks are trying to build a safe environment for a roster filled with many players who aren’t even old enough to drink. While the losses have piled up this season, the team appears to be a tight-knit group under coach Fizdale.
As the Knicks have moved on from Noah, Mills made it seem like signing him wasn’t something he was on board with from the beginning.
“Obviously I’m disappointed it worked out the way it worked out,” Mills said, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. “I don’t know that, had it been just my decision, I don’t know that I would have signed him.”
Mills was general manager of the team when the four-year, $72 million contract was signed. However, Phil Jackson was clearly running the show at the time. It is believed that Clarence Gaines also advocated for the signing. Of course, it was Gaines who is credited for pushing the Knicks to select Kristaps Porzingis.
Noah signed a contract with Memphis after being waived by the Knicks. He has played eight games for the Grizzlies, recently missing time from a sore heel.