The Memphis Grizzlies are working through contract language on a one-year deal with free-agent center Joakim Noah and expect to reach a deal early next week, league sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The New York Knicks waived Noah and stretched the final season of his four-year, $72 million contract prior to the start of the regular season.
Noah, 33, had two years and $37.8 million remaining on his contract. The move freed up more than $10 million in cap space for the Knicks in the summer of 2019, when they hope to attract a top free agent. Knicks general manager Scott Perry had been attempting to move Noah since before last February’s trade deadline, but he had been cautiously unwilling to include the necessary assets — a good young player or a future first-round pick or picks — to make Noah’s contract palatable to another team.
Talks continued through the summer, but New York never came close to finding a deal to unload Noah, league sources said.
Noah and the Knicks unofficially parted ways in February following a heated argument between Noah and ex-coach Jeff Hornacek. The relationship spiraled after Noah and Hornacek had to be separated during a West Coast practice session in late January. Noah became vociferous toward Hornacek in the aftermath of a brief appearance in a Jan. 23 game and engaged the coach verbally in practice the next day. Noah never played another game for New York.
Former Knicks president Phil Jackson signed Noah in July 2016 with the hope that he could be an anchor for New York’s defense. Noah, a two-time All-Star for the Chicago Bulls and 2014 Defensive Player of the Year, never made an impact with the Knicks. He played 46 games during the 2016-17 season, losing time to various injuries and an arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
In February 2017, the NBA suspended Noah 20 games for taking a banned substance; that ban cost him the first 12 games of the 2017-18 season. Noah averaged 5 points and 8.8 rebounds in 22.1 minutes per game in his first season in New York. He averaged 1.7 points, 2 rebounds and 5.7 minutes in seven games during the 2017-18 season.