Joakim Noah's exile continues.
Jeff Hornacek, who last week engaged in a heated exchange with his banished player, said that Noah will not return for Wednesday's game at Boston and there's a growing sense that the center won't be back until after the Feb. 8 trade deadline, at the earliest.
The Knicks still hope -- against odds -- they can find a trade partner willing to absorb Noah's albatross deal. They're also balking at Noah's desire for a buyout.
Which begs the questions: If they can't move Noah, would the Knicks want to bring back a player who is clearly unhappy and unwilling to accept his role? Or, would they be better off evicting Noah from the team until his contract becomes more manageable and they can send him elsewhere?
It's a conundrum not much different from when the Knicks banished Stephon Marbury from the team -- with pay -- about nine years ago. They couldn't negotiate a buyout, Marbury was miserable, and he was ordered to stay away. Noah seems headed down the same path.
Given his experience and reputation as a fiery competitor, Noah was supposed to be a leader and strong influence over the younger Knicks. He talked a lot about re-establishing his status as a veteran mentor after sitting out the first 12 games because of a PED suspension. But that never happened.
His homecoming to New York has included one miserable turn after another. From the Knicks perspective, he's a problem that won't go away easily with three years and $55 million remaining on his contract.
Noah was furious about playing only five minutes against Golden State on Feb 23, and that spilled over the next day at practice when he and Hornacek yelled at each other in front of the team. There were no punches, but a source told the Daily News that the exchange was "really bad."
That's not a good veteran example. Noah's frustration is understandable since he worked hard to rehab from shoulder surgery, but he has nobody to blame but himself for falling behind in the rotation because of the PED suspension.
"We have four centers and then we probably have the best shot-blocker in the league at the four spot and we use KP at that 5," Hornacek said, explaining yet again why he didn't play Noah. "It's tough on all the guys. They all want to play more minutes. It's a tough situation to have that many guys at a position."
Hornacek doesn't have that problem with Noah anymore. He's exiled. Maybe forever.