Joakim Noah faced the music on Tuesday, a few days after he faced the punishment: a 20-game suspension as a result of a positive test for “an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement.”
Speaking to reporters, Noah announced that he was clear to play basketball in the wake of what looked to be a season-ending knee surgery from February:
Noah sed he has been cleared by docs and so his 20 game suspension can start Wednesday #Knicks
— Fred Kerber (@FredKerber) March 28, 2017
This would allow eight of his 20 games to be lopped off during the 2016-17 season, with the 28-46 Knicks seeing their 82-game regular season come to a close in two weeks. The rather remarkable recovery – weeks ahead of schedule – should be allowed by the NBA as a nod to the notice that the OTC drug Noah tested positive for was only included in the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Joakim went on:
Video:Joakim Noah apologizes to the Knicks and their fans for taking a banned substance. 'I let a lot of people down.' pic.twitter.com/N06qPrun8B
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) March 28, 2017
“I tried to take a supplement to help me,” he said. “I’ve gone through a lot of injuries. I tried to take something to help me and it backfired. It didn’t come from a bad place.”
“Twenty games is severe,” Noah said, “But it is what it is and I gotta bounce back.”
This falls in line with what the league’s players’ union said upon hearing word of the NBA’s decision to suspend Joakim for that rather “severe” amount:
“Joakim was completely forthcoming and cooperative throughout the investigation and we believe that this isolated occurrence was a regrettable mistake,” the union statement said. “Joakim has offered his deepest apologies for this infraction, and neither he nor the NBPA will pursue an appeal.”
In all, a quiet and fitting (second) end to Noah’s frustrating first season with the club. Carmelo Anthony has already moved on to make jokes about the incident, in a way. Even if Noah weren’t skipping ahead with the hardly-believable miracle comeback, and ready to play against Miami on Wednesday, the tanking Knicks probably wouldn’t want much of the 32-year old in the rotation moving forward. The Knicks enter the game against the Heat with the best odds for the No. 6 pick in this June’s draft.
The draft’s top-heavy list of available point guards will likely extend to the Knicks’ favored spot, daunting news for a front office that would seem to rather want to find a big man along Noah’s pre-injury lines rather than attempting to secure yet another point man to work in ranks where older veterans (Jose Calderon, Brandon Jennings, Derrick Rose) failed. A teenager suddenly charged with not only bringing Noah back to life, but also feeding into whatever is left between Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony, and the triangle offense.
The Knicks will have some room to advance in free agency this summer, but Noah’s four-year, $72 million deal (already regarded as perhaps the NBA’s worst scrap of paper) looms large. The 2017-18 campaign will be the fourth in a string between Noah’s current and previous club to welcome him to camp heartily, while hoping from the best in an offseason that included surgery and significant time off.
According to Joakim Noah, the Knicks, and apparently the NBA, Joakim Noah will be some seven months healthy by the time the 2017-18 season tips off, so that’s a good start.
A start that will have to wait an additional 12 games, of course.
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