Joakim Noah’s controversial and disastrous run in New York took another odd turn on Thursday when the Knicks announced that Noah, upset over his playing time, would not be available for at least the next two games due to “personal reasons.”
According to a source close to the veteran center, Noah shouted at head coach Jeff Hornacek after Honracek removed him in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors. Noah played just four minutes and 20 seconds.
“It didn’t look good,” the source said. “Joakim is obviously frustrated that he hasn’t been playing and then he finally goes in and he didn’t get much of a chance.”
The Knicks were deliberately vague on the details of Noah’s absence, especially since Noah attended Wednesday’s practice in Denver. It is not known if Noah’s brief outburst on Tuesday is the reason why he left the team. The Knicks did not classify Noah’s absence as a suspension.
When asked specifically about Noah’s status, Hornacek said: “We’re not going to comment on that stuff. Personal reasons. He won’t be with us the next couple of games.”
The Knicks play the Nuggets on Thursday and close out their Western Conference road trip Friday against the Phoenix Suns. Hornacek did not rule out Noah being away from the team for more than two games.
“We’ll see,” Hornacek added.
The Knicks are acting like Noah may not be available for an extended period of time because they recalled rookie shooting guard Damyean Dotson from the G-League to replace Noah on the active roster. Dotson was with Westchester for the G-League Showcase in Toronto and appeared in the team’s last four games.
“He’s the type of kid who wants to play," Hornacek said. “After all this having to go back and forth between inactive, we felt it would be good for him to have a stretch of (G League) games. He’s done well, enjoyed playing and is happy to come to us.”Noah is in the second season of a four-year, $72 million contract that he signed under former Knicks president Phil Jackson. The contract is about as close to untradeable as any contract in the league.
Noah’s inaugural season with the Knicks was interrupted by injury and a 20-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. Last year, Noah played his final game of the 2016-17 season on Feb. 4.
He opened this season serving out the remaining games of his suspension and being the odd man out in the Knicks rotation. Noah has appeared in just seven games this season. Clearly, Noah doesn’t have a place on a team that is in a rebuilding mode. The ideal scenario for both parties would be a buyout although neither the Knicks nor Noah has said publicly that they were looking to sever ties.
“(Joakim) works hard to keep himself in shape,” Hornacek said. “He’s professional that way. It’s always tough when you want to play."