With Joakim Noah returning from suspension, Knicks waive Mindaugas Kuzminskas

ByAdrian Wojnarowski and Ian Begley ESPN logo
Monday, November 13, 2017

The New York Knicks have waived forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas to make room for the return of Joakim Noah.

Kuzminskas, 28, is in the final season of a two-year contract that was fully guaranteed for $3 million this season.

New York needed to open a roster spot to make room for Noah, who will return Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers from a suspension for the use of a banned substance. Noah served the final 12 games of the 20-game suspension this season. It was originally issued in late March.

Kuzminskas posted on social media his gratitude toward the organization and his hopes for the future.

"The respect this franchise has for Mindaugas cannot be overstated," Knicks GM Scott Perry said in a statement. "His professionalism and work ethic were greatly appreciated by his teammates, coaches and the entire staff. This decision was extremely tough for us. We wish him nothing but the best moving on with his playing career."

New York was carrying 18 players on the roster during Noah's suspension and had a 5 p.m. ET Sunday deadline to create a roster spot for Noah by either trade or waiver. The club had 15 players on guaranteed contracts prior to waiving Kuzminskas.

Jarrett Jack is signed to a non-guaranteed contract, but the club could not waive him because he has played a key role in its turnaround. New York is 7-2 since Jack replaced Ramon Sessions in the starting lineup on Oct. 27.

One factor in the Knicks' decision to waive Kuzminskas over Sessions was Jack's recent injury history, according to a league source. The veteran guard was limited last season with a knee injury.

The Knicks still owe $3 million to Kuzminskas, which is about $700,000 more than they would have owed Sessions had they waived him.

Noah will be in uniform on Monday for the first time since early February. He missed time due to a knee injury as well as the suspension.

It is unclear if Noah, 32, will be in the Knicks' rotation when he returns. Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek has said he'd like to play Noah but is happy with his current center rotation, which includes starter Enes Kanter and reserve Kyle O'Quinn.

"All I can do is just be as ready as possible," Noah said Friday. "I feel like I've put myself in that position, grinding hard. Whatever my role is I'll accept it. ... We're all in this together, and whoever's out there fighting, we're going to support them."