Cloud of Uncertainty Envelops Joakim Noah’s Suspension

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The Knicks’ Joakim Noah watching from the bench during a game against the Houston Rockets in November.

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Alex Goodlett for The New York Times

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Joakim Noah returned to the court Tuesday afternoon, donning a Knicks workout jersey and shuffling through a light practice at the team’s training facility. The timing and the significance of the scene were not immaterial.

When Noah underwent left knee surgery last month, it was not certain he would play again this season. When it was disclosed over the weekend that he had tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and had been suspended by the N.B.A. for 20 games, the question quickly turned to how soon he could be cleared to play again so the suspension could begin.

The answer is still unclear. Although Noah was cleared by Knicks doctors on Monday night to resume practicing, the league has yet to weigh in. Only when it does, and approves Noah’s return to the court, can he begin serving the suspension. If he is cleared by the league before the Knicks host the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, he will miss eight games this season and the first 12 of the 2017-18 campaign.

“Right now, it’s just starting my suspension as soon as possible,” Noah said. “And moving on from this.”

In speaking publicly on Tuesday for the first time since the suspension was announced, Noah was contrite but evasive. He spoke for roughly four and a half minutes, apologizing to the Knicks and his teammates at the outset of an interview with reporters but also cutting it off. And he declined to share many details about what had led to his punishment.

Noah, 32, did say he made a mistake in taking an over-the-counter supplement while recovering from one of his many injuries. It was that supplement that apparently resulted in the positive test, and Noah told reporters that it was not provided to him by the…

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