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Why Joakim Noah's contract with the New York Knicks was deemed the "worst signing in franchise history"

Phil Jackson thought it was smart to sign Joakim Noah — who played just 29 games the season prior due to injuries — to a lucrative contract.
New York Knicks center Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah

When the New York Knicks offered Joakim Noah a four-year, $72 million contract in 2016, not everyone was too happy about it. It seemed too much for a player who averaged 4.2 points the season prior. Things unraveled quickly as injuries and verbal tussles made Noah “the worst signing in franchise history.”

Injury history

Before Noah donned the Knicks jersey, he was a defensive stalwart with the Chicago Bulls and won the Defensive Player of the Year in 2014. He was also instrumental in the Bulls’ 2011 Playoff run, where they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Come the 2015-16 season, Noah suffered a shoulder injury that limited him to just 29 games. The Knicks, which team president Phil Jackson helmed during that time, saw Noah’s injury as a trivial matter and offered him a massive contract.

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But as bad luck (or bad foresight) would have it, Noah suffered a knee injury and had to undergo surgery. While in rehab, he was slapped with a 20-game suspension without pay for violating the league's anti-drug policy. Then, Noah had to go under the needle again to repair his rotator cuff.

Noah averaged 5.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in 46 games in his first season with the Knicks.

More headaches

The problems did not stop there — they even got worse. Noah got into a verbal tussle with then-Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek. This was the last straw, as the team quickly arranged to release Noah. As reported by the New York Post:

The Knicks officially released center Joakim Noah on Saturday, using the stretch provision to officially rid themselves of the worst signing in franchise history. Sources said the delay was trying to get Noah to give up more money in a buyout because he can sign with another team for the $2 million veteran’s minimum. It has been reported for several weeks Noah would not be on the Knicks’ 15-man roster.

Unfortunately, the Knicks jersey would be one of the last uniforms Noah would wear. After his release, Noah signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, where he played 42 games. In the 2019-20 NBA season, he inked a 10-day contract with the LA Clippers, leading to a multi-year deal. But in December 2020, the Clippers waived him. Noah retired in March 2021.

Noah certainly did not have the ideal last hurrah of his career. Many expected his Clippers stint to be his long-awaited comeback to the elite level. But alas, things happen. Some of them do not run in your favor. 

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