Noah's Arrival To Memphis Comes With Pessimism as Well As Promise

Joakim Noah is now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, filling the final roster spot, previously vacated by Andrew Harrison. Noah, who has not played since the 2016-17 season with the New York Knicks and 7 games in 2017-18, was signed to a veteran minimum contract worth $1.73 million for the rest of the season. During his two seasons with the Knicks, he averaged 4.6 points over 53 games Now? Who knows. But you shouldn’t hold that against his ability to contribute to a winning team.

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When The Daily Memphian's Chris Herrington and The New York Times' Marc Stein reported the Grizzlies’ interest in Noah, fan reactions, so far, varied from a level of contentment to a greater sense of ferocity.

It all started on November 1, 2018. The Grizzlies had just waived Andrew Harrison around lunch time, so everyone had a suggestion for who we should sign. At the time, and even now, the biggest issues with the team was a lack of rebounding and scoring. Fan speculators immediately prefered the latter, listing off countless names at the veteran minimum.

After some time, the Grizzlies finally made a move on Noah. Bringing Noah on the 15 man roster never should have registered as much surprise and discourse as it did. Most of the distaste of the signing came from on viral GIF of Noah shooting, or at least trying to, a free throw and failing spectacularly. It’s not like he’ll be shooting the ball a lot if at all. And I’m not undervaluing the importance of the 15th roster spot, but, after all, it is the 15th roster spot. The Grizzlies signing Noah will pay its dividends in a number of ways.

In Sunday’s, December 2, 2018, loss in Philadelphia to the 76ers, Ivan Rabb got some run time in the first quarter to relive Jaren Jackson, Jr. He immediately picked up three fouls against Joel Embiid in 45 seconds.


“He helped me a lot today. Just showing me some stuff on defense, talking to me a little bit. Cool dude,” Ivan Rabb said of meeting Noah on Tuesday afternoon before his 21 point, 11 rebound, and 7 assist outing to help the Memphis Hustle to a 109 - 93 victory over the Grand Rapids Drive. “Obviously, I want to play, but it’s always good to learn from a vet. And I feel like there’s still room for me to get in there, so I’m just gonna take it day by day and keep working.”

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I enjoy seeing Ivan Rabb get run time, because after seeing him with the Hustle so much, I know he can dominate. I can be blinded by that sometimes. The Grizz are simply insuring Marc Gasol a few minutes of rest (who currently plays a team high 35.7 minutes a game as the oldest player on the team) and giving JB another option for when Jaren gets into the early foul trouble like he did in the November 27 loss to the Toronto Raptors.


Rabb’s minutes will most likely come even more seldom and further apart. Although, he isn’t the only one who should be worried. JaMychal Green is on an expiring deal worth $7,666,667 and could prove attractive to teams in need of frontcourt depth. Signing Joakim to a cheap veteran minimum contract makes that JaMychal contract very expendable for a team who works so close around the tax line.


I’m not saying the Grizzlies will move on from JaMychal, because it is JaMychal. This front office prides themselves on what they do well, and what they’ve done well is finding talent and role players who’ve gone undrafted and in the second round. When there was a serious question of Chris Wallace’s job security , he practically came out and told everyone to remember how he started the “Grit-n-Grind” era by bringing on Tony Allen and Zach Randolph. I mean, if i were him, I would too. JaMychal always says the right thing every time and is always so likeable. Unless the perfect deal roles along around the trade deadline, I would expect Green to stay put. It would ultimately depend on how much the front office trusts those behind him in the rotation.


Another aspect of signing Joakim Noah is one similar to a previous free agent signing from the notorious summer of 2016, Chandler Parsons. One thing this small-market Memphis team rarely gets, outside of trades, are big names. Joakim is a big name. The former two-time All-Star and the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year brings a lot of attention to this team and could prove valuable, if he’s good, in trade conversations to other teams who also value attention.


On the court, if Noah works his way into games, he may not do much more than get a rebound, assist, or block here and there, but that’s seriously all he’d be needed for. If he breaks out and starts giving you solid production, then a conversation is needed about the rotation. This is where I plug in a reminder that Joakim Noah hasn’t contributed since 2016-17 when he gave the Knicks 8.8 rebounds in 22.1 minutes of action per his 46 games of the season. Other than his resume, there isn’t enough evidence to tell you that he will ripple things in Memphis too much.

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GrizzEric Lentz