Nerlens Noel On Track For Early February Return?

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle provided an update on Nerlens Noel‘s recovery timetable today, indicating that the big man is two weeks away from stepping up his activity (Twitter link via Earl K. Sneed of According to Carlisle, if Noel doesn’t experience any setbacks, he could get back on the court in early February.

Noel, 23, played a limited role for the Mavericks before going down with a thumb injury in December. In 18 games (six starts), Noel averaged 4.0 PPG and 4.1 RPG in just 12.5 minutes per contest. As such, his return likely won’t have a major on-court impact for the Mavs, who remain out of playoff contention anyway.

Nonetheless, the timing of Noel’s recovery could prove fortuitous for Dallas as the team considers potential trades. This year’s NBA trade deadline is earlier than usual, landing on Thursday, February 8. If Noel’s rehab progresses as hoped, he should be back on the court by that point, boosting his trade value.

While Noel has the ability to veto any trade that involves him, he would likely welcome an opportunity to go a team willing to give him a more consistent rotation role, if not a starting job. Still, it remains to be seen whether any club offers anything of value for the former sixth overall pick. Noel would lose his Bird rights if he’s traded, so potential suitors may simply prefer to pursue him in July, when he’ll reach unrestricted free agency.

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