Even if Dallas honors its perceived obligation to Dirk Nowitzki and continues to feature him at the five, there are plenty of minutes available to Nerlens Noel behind him. One of the problems, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer writes, is that the Mavs have one of the most imbalanced rosters in the NBA with a whopping seven centers on the payroll.
While Noel is, on paper, the best option to slot in behind Nowitzki, he hasn’t earned the trust of head coach Rick Carlisle. Suddenly, the 23-year-old long-term Mavs building block that was allegedly offered a four-year, $70MM contract in the summer is watching Salah Mejri take his minutes.
Tjarks spoke with Carlisle about Noel, gaining insight into why the Mavs haven’t made more of an effort to develop the big man in his first full season with the franchise. Noel’s defensive inefficiencies and struggles to fill the exact role requested of him have contributed to the current standstill.
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- In another article about Nerlens Noel‘s role with the Mavs, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes that the big man isn’t on a specifically short leash. “There’s no doghouse here,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “There just isn’t. It’s pretty simple. You compete and if you earn minutes, you get minutes. You got to compete. And our guys have to have an edge. No one’s given anything. That’s how we have to do things. The situation is we have a lot of tough opponents, record’s not good right now. Competing is what it’s all about.“
- The Rockets haven’t found a way to incorporate Tarik Black into their regular rotation. Until they do, the productive reserve will need to continue to prepare, as he tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “There’s nothing like basketball rhythm. I have to get back on the court. As far as staying prepared, every day I come in here and prepare like I am playing. I do my same routine and after the game, if I don’t play, do extra work,” Black said.
- The Grizzlies have drawn from last year to effectively navigate through a plague of injuries, Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “We had our moments last year when we were down to nine guys. So, you have to figure out how to use them and put them in a position to succeed,” head coach David Fizdale said.