February 12th 2017: Latrell Sprewell and James Dolan bury the hatchet as the Knicks defeat the Spurs
The Knicks snapped a 4-game losing streak with a 94-90 victory against the San Antonio Spurs on a nationally televised broadcast. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 25 points (including 3 three-pointers), 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. Kristaps Porzingis scored 16 points and blocked 4 shots. Willy Hernangomez made his second start of the season and had 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals. Willy’s minutes increased steadily after a shoulder injury sidelined Noah for the remainder of the season.
February 7th 2018: The New York Knicks trade Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets
The Knicks traded Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets for Johnny O’Bryant and two 2nd round picks in 2020 and 2021. Willy requested a trade a few days earlier after being stuck on the bench behind both Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn. To add insult to injury, the trade occurred only a day before Kristaps Porzingis, Willy’s friend dating back to the Sevilla days, tore his ACL. The Knicks immediately cut O’Bryant, who’s now playing for Lokomotiv Kuban of the VTB United League.
July 1st 2016: The New York Knicks agree to sign Joakim Noah to a 4 year $72 million contract
The Knicks agreed to sign Joakim Noah to a 4 year $72 million contract in what now looks like one of the worst decisions in franchise history. Noah only played 25 games in the prior season after undergoing season-ending left shoulder surgery. However, Phil Jackson, alongside an endorsement from Derrick Rose, believed that Noah would return to his old self and that his defense and passing skills would be valuable in a Knicks offense that balanced principles of the triangle offense. Rose himself vouched for Noah to come home to reunite together after spending their entire careers together in Chicago.
Unfortunately, the reunion and overall tenure in New York turned out to be a disaster. Noah missed parts of the preseason with a nagging hamstring injury. Noah only played 46 games in his first season with the Knicks. He clearly lost a step or two on defense and lacked the fire and intensity he had while with the Bulls. Unfortunately, his season ended early with a knee surgery further compounded by a 20 game PED suspension and a subsequent rotator cuff surgery.
After beginning the 2017-18 season suspended, the Knicks tried to ease Noah into playing shape. However, the center position was occupied by Enes Kanter & Kyle O’Quinn. Willy Hernangomez already sat in the doghouse due to his poor defense. Noah only played 7 games before effectively ending his Knicks career after fighting with Jeff Hornacek in practice.
The Knicks stretched Noah’s contract before the beginning of the 2018-19 season officially ending his tenure with us. His impact still lasts as his contract has stretched through the 2021-22 season. Although the cap hit still remains on the books, the Knicks now become a team with cap space to sign 2 max free agents.
The main issue of the Noah signing was the contract. Many GMs failed to properly evaluate the free agent market and overestimated the potential of revenue sharing on the NBA salary cap. Many players received excessive contracts including Timofey Mozgov, Luol Deng, Noah, Ian Mahinmi, and Bismack Biyombo, amongst many others. The perspective was that the contract would represent a smaller % of the cap as the latter would eventually spike in the upcoming seasons. As of 2018-19, the cap % did not spike up to their initial expectations.