The NBA trade deadline has passed, but we are far from the end of the player movement. It has become normal that a robust buyout market emerges after the deadline, as players who weren’t moved — or were moved to match salaries — are set free to sign with contenders for the minimum. These buyout players are valuable weapons for cap-limited teams in need of more depth.
Who will end up on the buyout market this year? Here are ten potential candidates of varying likelihood.
1) Derrick Rose, Jazz
Derrick Rose was sent to Utah as part of a three-way trade the Cavs made on deadline day. Reports have said he is likely to seek a buyout and receive one from the Jazz. If that happens, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been mentioned as a potential landing spot. He has great familiarity with his former coach Tom Thibodeau and ex-teammate Jimmy Butler, and is said to have interest in a reunion.
2) Joe Johnson, Kings
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The New York Knicks announced on Friday that Joakim Noah will be away from the team indefinitely, and at this point it would not be a surprise if it remained that way for the rest of the season.
Noah has not been with the Knicks since he had a dispute with head coach Jeff Hornacek on Jan. 25. According to a report from Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, the only way Noah would even consider playing for New York again is if Hornacek wasn’t the coach.
Here’s one possible way Joakim Noah comes back: te Knicks change coaches. Source says Noah and Hornacek “pretty much hate each other.”
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) February 2, 2018
Finding a trade partner before the Feb. 8 deadline will be virtually impossible, as Noah has been oft-injured and has $54 million remaining on his contract over the next three years. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Knicks are not willing to package any significant future draft assets or young players as a way to entice teams to take on Noah’s contract. A buyout is one possibility, but all indications have been that Noah has no interest in that.
Noah and Hornacek had to be separated during a recent practice in what sources told ESPN was a “pretty bad” disagreement. It’s obvious that the two simply are not going to coexist.
The New York Knicks are in a tough situation with Joakim Noah.
The Knicks are looking to get rid of Noah, who had an exchange with head coach Jeff Hornacek recently. Noah signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the team in 2016 and is owed nearly $38 million over the next two seasons.
While appearing on ESPN’s broadcast of the Celtics-Knicks game on Wednesday, NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski said Noah has no inclination to give back any of the money he is owed because he knows this could be his last contract. That means a buyout does not seem too likely.
If a buyout is not in the cards, the Knicks could waive Noah via the stretch provision. That would mean a $7.5 million hit to the club over five seasons rather than the $18.5 million they owe him next year and the $19.3 million he is owed the season after that.
Woj also reported that the Knicks have told Noah not to return to the team prior to the trade deadline.
As the New York Knicks discuss possible trade scenarios, exiled center Joakim Noah won’t be required to return to the team prior to the Feb. 8 trade deadline, league sources tell ESPN. Noah was sent away after a practice confrontation with Jeff Hornacek on Jan. 24.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 1, 2018
Joakim Noah’s days with the New York Knicks appear to be numbered.
According to Shams Charania of the Vertical, the Knicks are exploring ways to get rid of Noah after the center had a “heated verbal exchange” with head coach Jeff Hornacek last week.
Sources: After heated verbal exchange in practice between Joakim Noah and coach Jeff Hornacek last week, the Knicks are exploring avenues to part with Noah. He has two years remaining on the four-year, $72M deal he signed in 2016.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 29, 2018
Noah’s Knicks tenure has been nothing short of a disaster. He has played in only seven games this season after just 46 last year due to a combination of injuries and a suspension for use of a banned substance. Now he’s clashing with the coach. With the money he’s still owed and the fact that even he has admitted he’s far from the player he once was, it’s hard to see how the Knicks get rid of him without just swallowing their pride and paying him off.
Joakim Noah made his return to court for the Knicks and received a warm welcome from those on hand at Madison Square Garden.
Noah served the remaining 12 games of a 20-game suspension for using a banned substance to begin the season. He remained on the inactive list until Monday. With Enes Kanter set to miss the game against the Blazers due to back spasms, the Knicks activated Noah.
It was Noah’s first game since February 4. Prior to checking in for the first time, he received an ovation from Knicks fans.
Loudest ovation for the night is for Joakim Noah as he goes to the scorer's table to check in for his season debut… not even on the court yet.
— Pat O'Keefe (@patokeefe12) November 28, 2017
Center is a position New York has an abundance of depth at with Kanter, Kyle O’Quinn, and Willy Hernangomez on the roster in addition to Noah. Barring injury to either of them, it’s likely Noah won’t see many minutes this season. Noah is in the second year of a four-year contract he signed last summer worth $72 million.
Joakim Noah seems to be in the acceptance stage of his decline as a player.
The New York Knicks big man admitted on Friday that he “probably” will never be the same player that he once was, per Steve Popper of USA TODAY.
Noah asked if he feels he can be the player he was: "Probably not."
— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) November 17, 2017
Noah, 32, has averaged just 4.7 points per game over his last two seasons of play and has made just 75 total appearances over that span. He also has yet to play in 2017-18 thanks to a combination of injury and a drug suspension.
It is a disastrous admission considering that the Knicks signed the former Defensive Player of the Year to a four-year, $72.6 million deal just last year. His stint in New York has been known more for its lowlights than anything, and it seems Noah owns perhaps the single worst contract in the NBA today.
Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah were tight for the first handful of years during Butler’s NBA career, but things changed and the two grew apart during Noah’s final year with the team, according to a report.
ESPN’s Nick Friedell has an excellent feature on the downfall of the Bulls, a team that showed so much promise when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals behind MVP Derrick Rose in the 2010-2011 season. The Bulls changed coaches, have blown up their team, and now look like one of the worst franchises in the league.
In his feature, Friedell has a lot of sources talking both on and off the record. One notable item he shared is that Noah and Butler clashed in the 2015-2016 season, which was Noah’s final season before he left for the Knicks in free agency. Friedell says the two “engaged in several heated disagreements throughout that season.”
Both talked about their relationship and noted that things changed.
“What happened?” Butler told Friedell. “I don’t know. All I can say is, obviously he’s been with me since I was a nobody in this league. And I went about things a lot differently. My voice wasn’t heard. And he’s been with me as I came to be an All-Star as well in this league. And my voice was heard then. And when my voice is heard, I’m going to let it be heard.”
“We’re just different people,” Noah said to ESPN. “We were always very close; me and Jimmy were always very close, but things change.”
One issue that evolved is that Butler grew frustrated over his feeling that Noah wasn’t working as hard as he was. Butler had gone from being a bench player when he was first drafted to becoming an All-Star through his hard work, and he expected others to work as hard as he did.
Butler is now in Minnesota and playing under Tom Thibodeau, a coach he believes suits him well. Noah is recovering from shoulder surgery and was suspended in March for a violation of the league’s anti-doping policy.