Knicks Look at Familiar Face to Boost Depth for Final Stretch of Season

If you haven’t noticed, the New York Knicks tend to bring back former players. Taj Gibson is currently on his third separate stint with the Knicks this season. He initially signed a deal in December, got waived, and then signed two 10-day contracts.

The Knicks’ frontcourt has faced a couple of injury setbacks this season, from Mitchell Robinson hurting his ankle in December to Julius Randle dislocating his shoulder in late January. If it weren’t for these injuries, Gibson might not have returned to New York. Although, with Tom Thibodeau at the helm, a reunion with the beloved veteran could still have been possible.

Apart from Gibson, the Knicks have considered bringing back another former player. On Friday, Michael Scotto from HoopsHype reported that, before securing Gibson for his second 10-day deal, the front office looked into reuniting with free agent Nerlens Noel.

The Knicks have shown “exploratory interest” in the former center.

New York can’t sign Gibson to a third 10-day deal, so if they want him back, it would have to be for the remainder of the season. Given that Gibson has been the go-to player in times of need, especially in close games like the recent Knicks in Houston spoils end of the Cavaliers-Bulls game, it appears more likely that the Knicks would choose him over Noel.

Noel hasn’t played in any games this season. He initially signed a partially guaranteed deal with Sacramento before the 2023-24 season but was waived shortly after. Similar to Gibson, he’s been waiting for another team to pick him up.

If the Knicks decide not to sign him, the Hornets or Rockets might be interested, as per Scotto. Both teams have reportedly expressed interest in Noel. New York could provide Noel with the best chance of competing for a championship among the three options. Houston could be his next-best option, but the Rockets are 3.5 games away from the Play-In Tournament range.

Even if the Knicks bring back Noel, he would likely serve as injury insurance, considering his own history of injuries. Noel might prefer a more significant role with another team, which may not be possible with the Knicks.

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