Heading into a pivotal offseason, the Dallas Mavericks will have key decisions to make in free agency. With one glaring need being consistent center minutes, signing a quality big will be crucial.
One name they will be apparently looking into is Nerlens Noel, who had quite an interesting stint in Dallas from 2016-2018. And yes, we can kind of see the fit.
As first reported by Ian Begley of SNY, the Mavericks are among a handful of teams who will be interested in signing Noel in free agency this summer.
With that in mind, there will be several other teams who are interested in the big man’s services, including the Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets.
Some background: After just one season at Kentucky, Noel was projected to be an elite center at the NBA level, but fell to the Philadelphia 76ers with sixth pick in the 2013 NBA Draft following an ACL injury.
Two years went by with Noel struggling to fit in with the Sixers, resulting in a trade to the Mavs at the deadline. With his rookie contract coming to an end, Dallas felt that Noel was worth the risk and hoped a fresh start would help his career trajectory prior to signing him long-term.
In the summer of 2017, Noel shockingly turned down a four-year, $70 million contract to stay in Dallas. He took a gamble on himself and signed a $4.1 million qualifying offer that would make him a free agent the following summer where he felt he could earn more money. That final season with the Mavericks didn’t pan out, making Noel a free agent who missed his opportunity on a large payday.
From there, Noel became a free agent where his career would turn around after a successful stint in Oklahoma City on two single-year minimum contracts.
Last season, Noel signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the New York Knicks, where, relatively speaking, he continued to flourish. It became even more clear that in the right role, he could be a really effective player.
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Since leaving Dallas, Noel has averaged 11.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and 1.9 steals per 36 minutes over 202 games the past three seasons.
This time around, his expectations would be much lower in Dallas as he could be used as a spark-plug rotation big. Noel still doesn’t have the ability to space the floor, but is extremely efficient in the minutes he gets and is one of the most underrated defenders in the NBA.
It’s still unclear what type of contract Noel is looking for this summer, but the Mavericks will certainly be gauging his situation. And if we squint? We can kind of see the match.
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