Is Joakim Noah worth $72 Million?

The Knicks are at an interesting phase in their franchise. They’re flirting with the desire for playoff contention, even though it’s clear a championship is not within their stratosphere (apologies to everyone who bet on them to win it all this summer). It’s difficult to find a balance behind building for a 32 year old superstar, and a 21 year old superstar.

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The Derrick Rose trade was a smart decision due to his expiring deal. Worst case scenario and Rose gets hurt, it’s $21 million off the books. This makes the Rose acquisition beneficial if you want to win now, or if you’re in rebuilding mode.

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After the Rose trade, the Knicks signed Hell’s Kitchen native Joakim Noah to a 4-year $72 million deal. Let’s go over the pros and cons.

Noah brings a culture to the locker room that is priceless.

Well, we can’t exactly say it’s priceless, but this narrative rings true to many. Noah has been a homicidal competitor his entire career. He also brings the team together on and off the court.

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I went to the Knicks home opener against the Grizzlies, and even when Noah was on the bench, he wouldn’t sit down. He was constantly yelling at everything. He’s crazy, New York crazy.  

The Knicks were starving for Noah’s vocal leadership, reminiscent of Tyson Chandler. Just to see that kind of engagement is extremely refreshing for Knicks fans.

Porzingis is at his best at the 5.

I’ve been preaching this theory for about a year now, which is why I didn’t shed a tear when the Knicks traded an above average center in Robin Lopez. On Monday, the Knicks blew out the Mavs after benching Noah for Justin Holiday, a wing. The small ball lineup consisted of Melo at the 4 and Porzingis at the 5.

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Porzingis said after Monday’s win, “I really focus on what I can do better as a (power forward). And then as a five obviously I feel more comfortable because (centers) give you more space. Honestly, I don’t know. I’ll keep playing the four if they play me at the four. And if at the five I’ll try to be as productive as I can at the five.”

Key word is space. Any time you say that Andre Drummond and Hassan Whiteside will bully Porzingis in the paint, I’m going to say that Porzingis will bully them on the perimeter.

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You have to respect Porzingis’ ability to hit the three (averaging 2 per game at 40% after ten games), which means more room for Melo to work with inside, where he’s also at his best. One more fun fact: last time Melo started at the 4 all season, the Knicks won 54 games.

Noah is a defensive minded player on a team that sucks at defense.

Joakim Noah is a former defensive player of the year, and this was not just due to his ability to shut down opposing centers in the post. He won this award due to his high IQ in the pick and roll, and his ability to switch; he was the anchor of a Thibodeau defense.

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We have a small sample size this season, but so far Noah’s high IQ is not matching his body. Noah is simply too slow to survive a modern NBA offense.

The issue today is that everyone is looking to push the pace. Noah will come in handy when the Clippers, Pistons, Jazz and Grizzlies come into town, but that’s not worth the money or years in my opinion.

Here is a list of other 2016 free agents who could have come off the bench when Dwight Howard is bullying our beloved Porzingis:

  • Roy Hibbert – 1 year $5 million
  • Festus Ezeli – 2 years $12 million
  • Boban Marjanovic – 3 years $21 million
  • Dewayne Dedmon – 2 years $6 million
  • Kris Humphries – 1 year $4 million

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I’m not saying I think any of the players listed above are better than Noah, but opportunity cost is a huge factor in a league that has a salary cap. Is $72 million worth a player who is better suited off the bench as a post-defensive specialist against the 5 remaining post players in the league?

Whether the Knicks are looking to rebuild for the future, or are in “win now mode”, I can’t see a scenario where the Joakim Noah acquisition will prove to be an overall good deal.

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