The New York Knicks signed Joakim Noah to a massive contract in July 2016, and their current return on investment is approximately nothing.
Noah wasn’t available for the first 12 contests of the campaign while serving the remainder of a 20-game suspension. However, the center has watched the last two outings from the sideline as an inactive.
And according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday, that might not change in the near future.
Led by superstar Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks have jumped out to an 8-6 record. Even more impressively, they’ve won eight of the last 11 games since dropping three straight contests to begin the season.
Porzingis and Enes Kanter are the starters in the frontcourt, and Kyle O’Quinn has snagged a regular spot in the rotation. Throw in minutes for Lance Thomas and Michael Beasley off the bench, and Hornacek doesn’t even play Willy Hernangomez.
If a returning first-team All-Rookie performer isn’t entering the game on a nightly basis, Noah certainly shouldn’t, either.
Hornacek is making a wise decision with Noah. Putting the center into the game simply because of a $72 million contract would be an example of the sunk cost fallacy. The Knicks are winning without Noah, so there’s not much reason to alter the rotation.
Still, it’s an ugly problem for New York.
No amount of playing time would convince a team to simply absorb a three-year deal that has includes $55 million of salary through 2019-20. The Knicks would need to attach a star or a draft pick to move Noah’s contract, but they must protect the future.
The most likely outcome is New York eventually uses the stretch provision to waive Noah. In the meantime, though, he’ll be an expensive inactive.