Joakim Noah went from the suspended list to the inactive list.
Noah’s 20-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy is over, but Jeff Hornacek said on Monday that he will bring the veteran big man along slowly. The Knicks’ center tandem of Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn has done a good job, so there’s no need to shake things up at this point.
Hornacek said Noah was voted defensive captain by his teammates and that his voice will be heard on the bench.
“We want Jo to be involved even if he’s inactive,” Hornacek said. “He’s behind the bench now so he can continue the talk defensively with the guys. I talked to him about doing that and make sure he’s not just sitting back there but he’s involved. So we’ll get him back at some point. That we’ll just have to play by ear.
“He understands that the team is playing pretty well right now. To kind of change up the chemistry, not that that screws up chemistry, but having different guys on the [inactive] list could change things. So right now we’re just staying the way we are and we’ll just see how things go moving forward.”
Noah, a former All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year, was suspended late last season for taking a banned performance-enhancing supplement. It was a lowlight in an overall disappointing season for Noah after signing a four-year, $72-million deal to anchor the Knicks’ defense.
He appeared in only 46 games because of various injuries and the suspension. He served eight games of the ban last season.
Hornacek wouldn’t commit to playing Noah anytime soon. “If things weren’t going as well, maybe the consideration is a little bit different,” he said. “But Jo does great things for us. Defensively he’s there . . . It’s a numbers thing right now. Guys just got to keep working hard and at some point they’ll be ready.”
To make room for Noah, the Knicks waived forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas on Sunday. Hornacek said they cut Kuzminskas instead of Ramon Sessions — who lost his starting job to Jarrett Jack and is out of the rotation — because the Knicks have players who can slide over to small forward and they wanted insurance at point guard.
Jack is coming back from a major knee injury, Frank Ntilikina is a rookie and Ron Baker still is banged up. Hornacek said Baker hurt his shoulder playing for the West chester Knicks of the G League on Sunday.
“We can move a lot of guys around,” Hornacek said. “We play small with Courtney [Lee] at the three, so that eliminated some time at that three spot. But with the point guards, Jarrett coming off all the knee stuff that he had in the past, with Ron, the depth at point guard, if something happened, we still had three guys that can go.”
Notes & quotes: Former Knick Derrick Rose (sprained left ankle) was unavailable for the Cavaliers on Monday night. Another former Knick, Iman Shumpert, started at point guard.