TORONTO — Joakim Noah was all-NBA first team after the 2013-14 season. Even he admits he’s not that player anymore.
“Probably not,” the 32-year-old said on Friday.
As the Knicks battled the Raptors on Friday night, Noah was inactive for the third straight game since returning from a PED suspension. He is the fourth-string center on a team that plays only two centers per game. He also is in the second year of a four-year, $72-million contract.
“Obviously, I understand the situation,” Noah said. “I’m going to keep working to be as ready as possible to help in any way I can. I feel good. The team is going really well and I support my guys. Right now, it’s just about staying on the same routine. I think that I’m working hard and it’s all I can do.”
Noah would like to be more than a highly paid cheerleader. Have persistent injuries robbed him of the ability to be the defensive presence he was in his top days with the Bulls? He doesn’t have an answer because he isn’t playing.
“What can I bring?” he said. “I don’t know . . . I feel like I can help this team. That’s just my reality. I just want to be the best that I can be, not trying to be what I was three, four years ago, because it’s not the reality . . . I haven’t played in 10 months. I’ve gone through some injuries, I’ve gone through a lot of things, but at the same time, I’m not making an excuse. It is what it is.”
Coach Jeff Hornacek bristled when asked when Noah might see the court.
“Look at the numbers,” he said. “We’ve been over this. We have four centers . . . We’ll just continue to see what happens.”