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NBA AM: Will New York Regret Signing Joakim Noah?

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Sometimes, the best laid plans ultimately end up in the scrapheap. This is reality. No matter how much research, double checking and cross-referencing is done, sometimes, things fail to go as planned.

Case in point.

The New York Knicks signed former All-Star center Joakim Noah to a four-year, $72 million contract last summer with the belief that the veteran would anchor their defense and help create a winning culture in The Big Apple. Fast Forward nine months, and the Knicks are wrapping up their third consecutive 50-plus loss season and facing another summer of rebuilding, filled with uncertainty.

Noah appeared in only 46 contests this season, battling injuries, inconsistency and a league suspension.  It was announced on Tuesday that the center is expected to undergo surgery to repair a right rotator cuff injury. The rehabilitation process is extensive and Noah is expected to need four to six months to fully recover.

The former University of Florida standout hasn’t played since February 4, but tested positive for a banned over-the-counter supplement in March. The supplement in question, selective androgen receptor modulator LGD-4033, is banned under the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement and resulted in a 20-game suspension issued by the league.

The signing of Noah last summer by Knicks team president Phil Jackson was painted as one of the executive’s most splashy player acquisitions since assuming the role, but the franchise is suddenly upside down on their investment in the aging star, owing Noah $55 million through 2020.

Headed into the offseason, Jackson will have roughly $21 million in salary cap flexibility to improve the roster. Former league MVP Derrick Rose, who made $21 million this season, is headed into free agency and, at least officially, hasn’t been ruled out as potentially being re-signed by the club. The other notable player headed into free agency this summer is wing Justin Holiday, the impressive player who was the only Knick to appear in every game this season.

Ultimately, the signing of Noah may become a hinderance for future success. Jackson took the gamble on Noah even though the veteran was on the wrong side of 30 and coming off a campaign in which he appeared in only 29 contests during his last season in Chicago.

Noah averaged five points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 22 minutes per game over the course of only 46 appearances this season (all starts). The numbers were a far cry from the veteran’s prime years where All-NBA, All-Defensive and All-Star game selections were earned, placing him among the league’s best big men.

While Noah may not be “done” as a productive player in the league, heading into the offseason, the role Jackson and the Knicks hoped he could fulfill appears to be becoming more of a pipedream than reality.

Cavaliers to release Larry Sanders, sign Walter “Edy” Tavares and Dahntay Jones?

According to Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, sources say the Cleveland Cavaliers are planning to release come backing center Larry Sanders in order to sign 7-foot-3 center Edy Tavares for the playoffs. The Cavaliers surprised many around the league by signing Sanders last month after the veteran had been out of the league for two full seasons. He appeared in five contests with Cleveland and averaged less than one point per appearance.

The signing of Tavares is also quite the surprise for a team with title aspirations, especially considering the young big man has only appeared in 12 contests since entering the league.

According to Vardon’s report, the Cavaliers also plan to sign longtime veteran Dahntay Jones to round out their roster for the playoffs. Jones hasn’t logged a minute this season in any capacity, but was a member of last season’s championship team.

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About Lang Greene

Lang Greene

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons