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Joakim Noah signed a 10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers mere days before the NBA season was shut down due to the coronavirus. That left the former All-Star in a state of limbo. Though he was technically on a roster, he didn’t have the chance to prove he deserved to stay there without playing in any games. Once the season eventually restarted, his place in Los Angeles would be tenuous.
Fortunately for Noah, the Clippers plan to remedy the situation by signing him for the rest of the season, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The NBA’s transaction window is currently set to open on June 23, and barring any other moves or absences from incumbent players (including Lou Williams, who says he is “50-50” on playing at Disney), Noah would fill the Clippers’ final roster spot.
The Noah signing is a relatively low-risk endeavor for the Clippers. His energy and defensive-minded style should mesh well with a team whose slogan is “grit over glam.” Size had been a concern for the Clippers with a Western Conference Finals showdown against the gigantic Lakers seeming like an inevitability. Noah gives Doc Rivers another body to throw at the three-headed monster of Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, and he has battled LeBron James as often as anyone in the postseason. That experience should prove helpful.
The risk comes in his age. Noah is 35-years-old. The last time Noah played a full and healthy season with a team was back in 2014 when he was an All-Star with the Chicago Bulls. He last played for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2019, where he made 42 appearances and was a bright spot off the bench. He averaged 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds, which is nothing to write home about, but he brought his signature intensity and hustle on the floor every night. Long gone are his Defensive Player of the Year days from 2014, but his time in Memphis showed that he still has something to offer for an NBA team willing to take a chance on him.
If it works out for the Clippers, they’ve found a low-cost backup center option without giving up anything, and if not, then they can cut their losses. Either way, it’ll be intriguing to see what Noah can offer after over a year away from NBA action.