2016 FA Roundtable: Joakim Noah

KURYLO: I really liked Joakim Noah in Florida, and I like him as a pro. I’ve always been keen on players that rebound and defend, because I think there’s a huge deficiency in the market in that area. Or maybe it goes back to my high hopes for Mike Sweetney at the start of this blog. The Knicks are a franchise that have yet to succeed without defensive-minded big man in the middle. Think about every great Knicks team, and you can identify them by the center: Reed, Ewing, Camby, or Chandler. Throw in Noah’s ability to pass and his unique brand of joie de vivre, and you have a player that’s hard to hate.

Especially if it's this suit...
Especially if it’s this suit…

The problem is Noah’s health. His true shooting percentage decline (.531, .482, .406) is a scary proposition. Unlike Rose or Melo, Noah’s value isn’t tied to scoring, so a mediocre efficiency won’t be a death knell for Joakim. However Noah has frequently missed a chunk of games. His career average is just 64 games a season. In his 9 year career, he’s only managed 68 or more games 3 times. So perhaps I’m being sold on a bill of goods that won’t arrive. Unlike Rose, I can live with a Noah that’s not very efficient. However if he’s watching 20 games a year from the bench in a suit, then exactly how does this help the team?

Perhaps this trade isn’t about tapping into the Knicks’ mystique at the 5. Perhaps this trade is just Phil Jackson’s attempt to karmically re-align the franchise from the events of October 4th, 2005?

PLUGH: I love Joakim Noah. I tweeted that he’s NYC basketball in its purest distilled form. He’s infinity on the scoville scale. He plays like he’s on fire and he has the sort of attitude that New Yorkers like to project both on and off the court. “I’m ready to be an ANIMAL for this city,” he said to Rebecca Haarlowe. If Noah is reasonably healthy over the course of his contract, he has Oakley, Mason, Starks-level eternal love headed his way. And that’s the thing, right? The Knicks moves are all high risk gambles on guys with recent health problems. I almost typed “issues,” but that’s underselling the depth of the situation. Noah will earn part of his contract by injecting a level of fierceness to the club, but to be worth any of the deal he’ll have to be the double-double version of Noah for 70+ games a season. It’s worth noting that in his 29 game flop of a season last year….the one he spent on the Bulls bench under Fred Hoiberg…he actually put up career highs in rebounding and assist rates. Just sayin’…there’s some sneaky upside to his deal if he’s actually on the court enough. (Please be on the court enough.)

FISHER-COHEN: Outside the context of the Knicks, I don’t mind this signing. Noah is unlikely to ever reach the heights of 13/14. Hell, he’s probably unlikely given his age to ever repeat his 14/15 numbers. But unlike Rose, his injury history isn’t so devastating that a recovery is out of the question.

It’s a high risk, high reward move that might make a team like the Celtics or Blazers into dark horse title contenders in the best case. The problem is the Knicks are a bad team and still aren’t that great with best case Noah. We were an old team last year, and the moves this summer make our starters older than three of the four conference finalists’ last year. I’m not down with a plan that gets us to “not great” for a year or two in a best case scenario.

I don’t mind trying to exploit, as Knickerblogger Owen wrote, “the new market inefficiency” of injured players. For the Knicks though, that should mean gambling on younger players who had down years due to injury like Donatas Motiejunas or Meyers Leonard.

CRONIN: I, too, love Joakim Noah. Who doesn’t love Joakim Noah? Signing Joakim Noah to a four-year deal for $18 million per year is not a good idea, though. But at least he has a very good chance of being a good player next season, which is good when you’re paying a guy $18 million.

PLUGH: I think I’m the only person who’s extremely bullish on the Noah signing, outside of the chronically optimistic subsection of Knicks fans, who I’m convinced are doing whippets 20 hours a day. The contract length isn’t ideal, but I think Noah was Thibodeau’s MVP all those years the Bulls were battling the Celtics and Heat in the playoffs. The Bulls missed Noah much more than Rose during their injury fits, and I think he’ll be as important to the team as Jason Kidd was in his one season in New York. I’m feeling good about Noah’s health, generally, and I think he’s going to be one of the best free agent signings the Knicks have ever made (which, of course, is a low bar.) I could be wrong.

UDWARY: I agree with everyone, a healthy Noah is a great player that I would love on my team. The real problem is that he hasn’t been healthy the past two seasons and is in the stage of his career where productivity usually begins to fall off a cliff. Despite that, we signed the guy to a 4 year contract. If he stays healthy, we are all going to love Noah this year, but how long will he stay healthy? If we are willing to play Porzingis big minutes at center, and limit Noah’s minutes to under 30 per game, then I think he has a good chance of still being productive until year 3 at least. My suspicion, though, is that we are going to be struggling early this season, and Noah will end up playing big minutes because he will be our best performing player. Big minutes on an old Noah is a sure disaster waiting to happen.

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