HOUSTON — A hamstring issue could prevent Joakim Noah from playing in the Knicks’ preseason opener Tuesday night against the Rockets.
Noah said he suffered a sore left hamstring on the last play of training camp Saturday in West Point. The Knicks’ starting center, who signed a four-year, $72 million contract in July, said he would see how feels at shootaround. But it’s more important for him to be healthy when the regular season starts at the end of the month.
“It’s tough,” Noah said before shootaround. “I want to be out there. I want to play. But at the same time I just have to be smart. You can’t fool with these hamstrings. It’s preseason. I just want to be right when it counts.”
Noah’s health will be something to watch all season. He missed 53 games last season due to a dislocated shoulder that required surgery and has played more than 66 games just once in the past five years. Noah said he hasn’t had a hamstring injury before.
“It just happened,” Noah said. “I haven’t played in a long time and I’ve been working really hard and it just happened. You can’t get frustrated. Trust the process. Keep grinding and I’ll be all right.”
Jeff Hornacek wouldn’t say who would start at center if Noah can’t. It could be Kristaps Porzingis sliding over from power forward and Lance Thomas going from the bench to the starting unit. Hornacek also could start Kyle O’Quinn at center if he wants to open up more with a more conventional lineup.