Joakim Noah walked through the locker room with no crutches and without a limp six days after surgery on his left knee. He said he’s focused on coming back strong and proving himself.
It’s been a disappointing season for Noah, who signed a four-year, $72-million contract last summer. Noah played in 46 games, averaging 5.0 points and 8.8 rebounds.
“It [expletive] to not be able to play,” he said. “It’s been a tough year. But I just want to get back healthy and prove myself . . . Because I’m not happy with the way I’ve been playing so far this year. I want to bring more to this team.”
Although it’s unlikely, Noah hasn’t ruled out returning this season even if the Knicks’ fate is decided. He had arthroscopic surgery last week “to get a bone out that was stuck in the joint,” Noah said.
Noah already has begun light rehab and will start strengthening work Monday. “I want to play,” he said. “I want to play. Right now, I’m just taking it day by day. The next step is getting strength back in my leg and go from there.”
He was asked about the Knicks’ struggles, but he said it wasn’t the time to talk about why they’ve underachieved. Noah, who played only 29 games with the Bulls last season because of a shoulder issue, said his goal is to be more impactful and healthy next season.
“It’s been frustrating to not be able to be right for this team this year,” Noah said. “Just want to go out there and be able to play at a high level. It’s a setback. I just got to bounce back.”
The blame game
Derrick Rose blamed himself for Friday’s loss to the 76ers because he missed a layup down the stretch. But Jeff Hornacek said the finger should be pointed all around for that game and this season.
“We’re all to blame,” he said. “When you’re not winning 50 or 60 games, everybody is to blame in some way. So coaches, players, management, whatever it is, we’re all in this together.
“A missed shot here or there, a turnover late in the game, we tell the guys that’s not always what costs you the game. It’s the run in the second quarter that we allowed a team, an offensive rebound we gave up in the third quarter. All those plays are the same.”
Jackson chats with Kerr
Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Knicks president Phil Jackson spoke outside the Golden State locker room after the game. Kerr said he was looking forward to talking to his former coach and almost boss. Jackson was close to hiring Kerr as Knicks coach in 2014.
“We’ve had plenty of conversations. We haven’t had any recently,” Kerr said. “We emailed each other two, three days ago just in anticipation of this game and seeing each other, but I haven’t talked to him in a while. Obviously, we both get pretty wrapped up in our circumstances. But I’m looking forward to seeing him.”
Win streak long overdue
When asked if he has a number of wins in mind that he’d like the Knicks to get in the final 20 games, Hornacek responded: “We’re still trying to get two in a row. We’ll worry about that after we get two in a row.” The Knicks haven’t won two straight since Dec. 20-22.