Knicks, Joakim Noah agree on indefinite leave

Woj: Finding a trade for Noah is 'futile endeavor' (1:09)

Adrian Wojnarowski tells Toni Collins that the Knicks will take an expensive hit as they try to rid themselves of Joakim Noah before the trade deadline. (1:09)

The New York Knicks and Joakim Noah have mutually agreed that the veteran center will not return to the club until further notice, the team announced Friday.

Noah has been exiled from the Knicks since Jan. 25 after a dispute with head coach Jeff Hornacek.

The Knicks and Noah's representation discussed his status Wednesday and agreed that Noah would stay away from the team until the front office can exhaust any trade possibilities between now and the deadline, league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Assuming the deadline on Thursday passes without a deal for Noah, it is unclear how the Knicks and Noah will proceed together.

Finding a deal for Noah and the three years, $54 million left on his contract has already been a futile task for the Knicks, who, league sources told Wojnarowski, are unwilling to attach significant future draft assets or young Knicks players to incentivize a team to take on Noah.

Noah and Hornacek had to be separated during a recent West Coast practice session, league sources told Wojnarowski. "It was pretty bad," one source with knowledge of the interaction told ESPN.

Noah played 4 minutes, 31 seconds in the fourth quarter of the Knicks' loss to the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 23. He was visibly upset when Hornacek pulled him from the game for starting center Enes Kanter, as Noah believed he'd play more with big men Kyle O'Quinn and Kristaps Porzingis sidelined with injuries.

Noah yelled at Hornacek while coming off the floor and again while sitting on the bench, using expletives to express his displeasure about being removed from the game, league sources told ESPN. The next day, he engaged Hornacek in a verbal encounter in practice. The Knicks sent Noah away immediately.

The Knicks could try to negotiate a contract buyout with Noah and his agent, Bill Duffy, but Noah's camp isn't motivated to give back guaranteed money on his contract without at least a clear avenue to make it back elsewhere as a free agent.

If the Knicks choose to waive Noah using the NBA's stretch provision, the franchise would owe him $7.5 million over five seasons as opposed to $18.5 million in 2018-19 and $19.3 million in the final year of his contract. Stretching Noah's contract would cut into New York's salary-cap space in summers in which the organization is hopeful of landing top free agents.

The National Basketball Players Association said in a statement that it is "closely monitoring" the situation between the Knicks and Noah to ensure that the veteran center is "treated fairly under the rules of our collective bargaining agreement."

Former Knicks president Phil Jackson signed Noah to a four-year, $72 million free-agent deal in July 2016 with the hope that he could be an anchor for New York's defense. Noah, a two-time All-Star for the Chicago Bulls, never made a significant impact. He played in 46 games in the 2016-17 season, losing time to various injuries and an arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. In February 2017, the NBA suspended Noah 20 games for taking a banned substance -- a ban that cost him the first 12 games of this season.

Noah averaged 5 points and 8.8 rebounds in 26 minutes per game last season. This season, Noah has averaged 1.7 points, 2 rebounds and 5.7 minutes in seven games.