Joakim Noah should make his 2017-18 season debut for the Knicks in Game 13, if he’s healthy.
The NBA concurred with the Knicks’ doctors that Noah can resume playing after undergoing left-knee surgery Feb. 27. That clearance from the league’s “independent medical expert” paved the way for Noah to start serving his 20-game suspension Wednesday night for violating the terms of the NBA’s anti-drug policy began.
Noah will be suspended for the final eight games of this season and the first 12 next year.
“It’s helpful that it’s not 20 games into the season next year,” coach Jeff Hornacek said before the Knicks faced the Heat. “It’s 12 or so. That’s still a pretty good chunk of games, but it beats 20.
The NBA suspended Noah for testing positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator LGD-4033. The veteran center apologized to the Knicks and said Tuesday that he “made a mistake” by taking an over-the-counter supplement that was banned by the NBA and other professional sports leagues.
Noah said he had been taking it to help recover from various injuries. He also had ankle and hamstring issues this season before requiring knee surgery and played only 29 games last season because of a shoulder injury.
“I tried to take something to help me and it backfired,” Noah said.
Noah, who signed a four-year $72-million free-agent contract last July, appeared in 46 games this season for the Knicks and averaged 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Hornacek said Noah will practice and travel with the team, but he has to be out of the building two hours before tipoff on game nights. Hornacek believes having Noah practice will be beneficial.
“He’s obviously going to be on our team next year,” Hornacek said. “[It’s good] to get back in the flow and not just be away for a long period of time. Some of the things we’re going over now toward the end of the season that we’re trying to emphasize are maybe a little different than when he was here four weeks ago. Any time he’s at practice it’s going to be good.”
Noah was placed on the active list. Derrick Rose (sore left knee) and Lance Thomas (sore right hip) were unavailable Wednesday night.
Rose said he felt tightness in his left knee in Monday’s game, but he played through it. He doesn’t believe it’s anything serious. He hopes to return Friday in Miami.
“It feels like pressure,” Rose said. “It feels tight or like your leg doesn’t get warmed up at all. It almost feels like you’re playing with a stiff leg .We thought a day of rest would at least do something to it but I still feel discomfort, I still feel tightness in the back of my knee. Playoff game I’d probably give it a go. But I got to be cautious with it.”