CHICAGO — Knicks general manager Scott Perry said there will come a day when Joakim Noah will muscle himself past the three centers ahead of him on the depth chart — whether due to matchups, injuries, or the myriad other unpredictable things that can happen over a course of an 82-game season.
But Saturday? Saturday was not that day.
Noah, who’s only played 48 games since signing a four year, $72.5 million contract, was inactive Saturday against his old team, and despite Perry’s morning assertions that the Knicks still have room for their woe-begotten center.
“Jo has been a consummate pro,” Perry said. “[He’s] a guy who’s been used to playing for most of his career but he’s a professional example. The guy is coming before practice, staying after practice. He’s setting a good tone for the young guys to follow and what I know about him is that when his number is called, I think he’s going to be ready to help this ballclub in any way he can.”
Before shootaround — and before he learned he wouldn’t be dressing — Noah said that physically, he felt great, but acknowledged he likely would never return to the form he had in 2014, when he finished fourth in MVP voting as a Chicago Bull.
“But for me, it’s not about that,” he said. “I’m trying to get back on the court. It’s not about trying to do that. I know what my situation is. I’m not playing. Why are we talking about something that happened like five years ago? But I definitely feel I can help for sure.”
After serving a 20-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug policy, Noah has been something of a non-factor (12 of those games were served at the beginning of this season). He has played in only two games — a grand total of 11 minutes — and amassed five points and five rebounds in that span. Perry, though, insisted he sees Noah’s value.
“I like having some veteran people around to help a young team and I think his veteran experience is very helpful to have him around in the locker room,” he said. “As of right now, I’m very comfortable that he’s here . . . He’s done everything that we’ve asked of him and I think he’s embracing where he’s at in his career.”
Hardaway on schedule for re-evaluation
Perry said Tim Hardaway Jr., dealing with a stress injury in his left shin, is still on schedule to be re-evaluated in two weeks. Hardaway traveled with the team to Chicago.