Joakim Noah is back. Almost.
Noah was suspended for 20 games during last season for testing positive for the PED Androgen, and he entered this season with 12 of those games left. The Knicks (6-5) play their 12th game Saturday vs. Sacramento, and then Noah can return to the lineup.
Where he fits in — and how often he sees the court — are different questions. Ones Noah may not like the answer to.
For now, Noah is just happy to be back, as he told Anthony Rieber of Newsday.
“I’m not going to lie,” Noah said on Friday after practice. “It was very humbling, very tough, to not be able to be with the guys, to have to stay back and watch the games alone. That’s been tough. It’s been a long couple weeks. I’m happy we’re playing well. And I’m just happy to be back with the team.”
Noah now may be watching the games from the bench rather than alone on a television. Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek has found a rotation he likes at center with Enes Kanter starting and Kyle O’Quinn coming off the bench.
It’s not like Noah’s play last season would demand playing time. Noah’s came to New York last season after signing a four-year, $72 million deal and it was a disaster — he was not completely healthy and only played in 46 games, averaging 5.5 points on 49 percent shooting, plus 8.8 rebounds a game in those. He was not great on the offensive end and on the defensive end he was a step slow and not anywhere near the former Defensive Player of the Year.
Noah knows he has a lot to prove.
“All I can do is just be as ready as possible,” Noah said. “Whatever my role is, I’ll accept it.”
The Knicks have a full 15-man roster and have reportedly tried to gauge trade interest in forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas. (The Knicks have only one none-guaranteed contract on their roster in Jarrett Jack, but he has been so good he’s now the starting point guard, so he stays.)