Sport Out of Knicks' rotation, healthy Joakim Noah admits past heights could be past

19:37  10 december  2017
19:37  10 december  2017 Source:   Los Angeles Times

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What contributions will Joakim Noah provide to the New York Knicks upon his return? The Knicks must figure that out sooner than later. He’s a shell of his old self, and the way the NBA has changed over the past few years doesn’t complement his traditional play style.

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Joakim Noah looking at the camera: Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, right, looks at treammate Taj Gibson during the first half against the Detroit Pistons at the United Center in Chicago on Saturday, April 2, 2016.© Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, right, looks at treammate Taj Gibson during the first half against the Detroit Pistons at the United Center in Chicago on Saturday, April 2, 2016.

CHICAGO - Joakim Noah sat shirtless Saturday morning inside the United Center, a scar on his surgically repaired left shoulder clearly visible.

Noah is carrying other wounds - some self-inflicted and some not, some visible and some not.

Just three-plus years removed from a dominant season with the Bulls in which he won Defensive Player of the Year and finished fourth in the MVP voting, Noah, in his second season of a four-year, $72 million deal with the Knicks, is out of the rotation - active some nights, inactive most.

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New York Knicks center Enes Kanter is known to be a subpar defender. Thankfully, 2014 Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah has taken Kanter under his wing. He’s got a lot of experience so I can really use his help.”

Joakim Noah is ready to take the other side in the rivalry between the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls. The key will be keeping Noah healthy , as he’s missed 68 games over the past two seasons.

That included the humbling moment of sitting in street clothes Saturday night in the building that used to resonate with cheers of "MVP!" and "Noah!", inactive once again.

"Probably not," Noah said quickly and honestly when asked if he can reach his Bulls levels again. "But for me, it's not about that. I'm trying to get back on the court.

"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."

This is what pains Noah the most. The ultimate team player, he is trying to balance being healthy and inactive, remaining competitive while in a cheering-from-the-sidelines role.

Like close friend Derrick Rose, Noah's fall from grace has included injuries. Noah, who had knee and left shoulder surgery while with the Bulls, spent all summer rehabbing his right shoulder after surgery repaired a torn rotator cuff. He also served a 20-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy, taking a banned over-the-counter supplement late last season.

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Joakim Noah could be line for more minutes - with the Westchester Knicks . Joakim Noah Admits Hell Probably Not Ever Be The Player He Once Was . RORIE, PRIDGETT LEAD MONTANA PAST CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE 86-68 NBA (The Vertical).

Unlike Rose, who recently took a leave of absence from the Cavaliers to ponder his future in basketball, Noah sounds as committed as ever.

"It was hard, man," Noah said. "It was two years in a row, two different shoulder injuries. But I worked really hard this summer to be able to come back and be on the court after all the injuries that I had. By March, I had a knee and a shoulder (hurt). I wasn't feeling too good.

"Just to be back moving well is special. I was crippled. It was not a good feeling in March. I wasn't in a good place physically and mentally. To be here, feeling good and maybe getting a chance to get a couple minutes in the United Center, I'm happy about that.

"The suspension was a really tough situation for me. It was very embarrassing. It took me a while to get to grips with it. It was a mistake; I owned it. This is going to be part of my story. This is not a story of glory and, 'Oh, he won five championships.' No, I got suspended for drugs. It's part of who I am."

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Noah logged more minutes in one game with the Westchester Knicks of the Gatorade League than in his 11 with the NBA Knicks. Coach Jeff Hornacek and general manager Scott Perry said Noah has remained professional and worked hard on conditioning while accepting his demotion, brought on by his injuries, suspension and four centers on the roster.

"We got off to a good start, (so) it's tough to make any changes at that point," Hornacek said. "And we're still in that same boat.

"When you're used to playing a certain way, and you saw it a little bit with Derrick Rose, it's tough. But (Noah is) a professional. He has worked hard. Sure, everybody wants to play and compete, but I think he understands."

Perry said there are no current plans to buy out the 11-year veteran, citing how injuries can create opportunities.

Thunder coach Billy Donovan, who coached Noah to two NCAA Tournament titles at Florida, knows the proud player as well as anyone.

"He's a team guy, he's a winner and he struggles when he can't impact a group," Donovan said in an interview last month. "He also loves New York because he grew up there and has a sense of obligation that he doesn't want to let anybody down."

And so Noah pushes on, trying to stay positive while his competitive fire burns within.

"I feel great," Noah said. "I think that extra time (from the suspension) was a blessing. I could really focus on my body. The suspension also put things in perspective for me. I had to change some things in my life, get organized.

"I've always been a team guy. That's never going to change. That's who I am. I support all my teammates. It's not about my situation.

"I made my mistakes. (With) my injuries (and) everything, I'm coming from the bottom. I'm OK - I feel good, I feel healthy. And whenever my number is called, I'm ready.

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Melo: I'll always be part of Knicks' culture .
You can take Carmelo Anthony out of New York City, but you can't take New York City out of Carmelo Anthony. For the first time since his offseason trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Anthony returned to Madison Square Garden on Saturday to face his former Knicks team, but he fell short, going scoreless in the second half en route to a 111-96 loss. Despite the Thunder dropping to 14-15 with the defeat, Melo couldn't help but pour loveFor the first time since his offseason trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Anthony returned to Madison Square Garden on Saturday to face his former Knicks team, but he fell short, going scoreless in the second half en route to a 111-96 loss.

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