Noah left the Knicks last week after a lengthy disconnect with Hornacek and his staff that saw at least one run-in between Noah and Hornacek on their recent road trip, per sources with knowledge of the dynamic.
Hornacek said Monday that Noah might return for Friday's game in Milwaukee, but there is a growing sense that the 33-year-old center might not be back with the club before the Feb. 8 trade deadline -- if at all.
Noah's recent interactions with Hornacek were bad enough to lead to his leaving the team and it stands to reason that the Knicks might not want Noah back around a club that is young and trying to build a positive culture.
If New York wants to get Noah off of its roster, though, its options are limited.
As of Monday, there had been no conversations between the Knicks and Noah about a potential buyout on the remaining three years and $56 million on his contract, according to league sources.
Sources said Monday that Noah has no inclination to give back significant money on his contract in any buyout with New York and that he was waiting for the Knicks to deliver word on whether or not he was welcome back.
The Knicks have tried to trade Noah on several occasions over the past few months, but opposing teams have been wary of taking on his contract. New York likely will continue to try to trade Noah before the Feb. 8 deadline, but it would be surprising if they found a team to take on the remaining $56 million of Noah's salary, including this season.
The former Defensive Player of the Year signed a four-year, $72 million contract with New York in the summer of 2016.
The Knicks can waive Noah and decrease the cap hit they'll incur for his contract over the next two summers via the stretch provision, but using this tool on Noah isn't ideal. It would reduce his cap hit to $7,565,000 over the next five years, beginning in 2018-19 and ending in 2022-23. Noah is scheduled to make $18.5 million in 2018-19 and $19.3 million in the final year of his contract.
While stretching Noah would give the Knicks more money to spend in the next two summers, it also would eat into their cap space down the road when they hope to attract free agents.
The Knicks also could waive Noah, though they'd likely attempt to negotiate a buyout before exploring this option. Waiving Noah wouldn't change the hit on the Knicks' books, but it would put an end to what, at the moment, is an uncomfortable relationship between the coaching staff and player.