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Report: Knicks to trade or stretch Joakim Noah

New York Knicks Media Day

WHITE PLAINS, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Joakim Noah #13 of the New York Knicks is photographed at New York Knicks Media Day on September 25, 2017 in Greenburgh, New York. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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The Knicks – even after firing Jeff Hornacek and hiring David Fizdale – planned to stretch Joakim Noah after Sept. 1.

Apparently nothing changed this summer.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Ian Begley of ESPN:

Unless general manager Scott Perry can find a trade that includes Noah, the Knicks will use the NBA’s waive-and-stretch provision to release Noah sometime after Sept. 1, league sources said.

The Knicks almost certainly won’t trade Noah, who’s guaranteed $18,530,000 next season and $19,295,000 the following season. He has arguably the NBA’s worst contract, and New York would have to attach significant sweeteners to unload him.

That leaves the stretch provision.

By executing it after September begins, the Knicks would pay his entire $18,530,000 salary this season. Better to get that out of the way during what projects to be a down year with Kristaps Porzingis hurt and the rest of the roster lacking.

Then, the $19,295,000 remaining on Noah’s contract would get spread over the following three seasons in equal $6,431,667 cap hits. New York would open an extra $12,863,333 in cap space next summer (minus a roster charge if the Knicks have fewer than 12 players).

That $12 million-ish could go a long way in free agency. The Knicks offer a huge market and a rising team, they’d appeal to many players.

But the Knicks could get this same benefit next summer. They could wait until they line up free agents who require that extra cap space then stretch Noah. By delaying, New York would also leave open the possibility of trading Noah.

If free agents forgo the Knicks next summer, New York could also decide just to pay Noah his entire salary in 2019-20 and get it over with rather than incurring unmovable $6,431,667 cap hits in each 2020-21 and 2021-22.

So, why stretch him this offseason? It’s mostly a huge favor to Noah. He wants to play, and the 33-year-old doesn’t fit the Knicks’ rebuild. This allows him to find his next team before the season.

It also removes a potential malcontent from the locker room (though New York could just tell him to stay home) and opens a roster spot.

Ultimately, the Knicks are mandating they put their 2019 cap space to better use than they could in 2020 and 2021 – nearly a year before they must make that call.