After four disappointing seasons, former lottery pick Nerlens Noel has a chance to revive his career with the Thunder, writes Ben Nadeau of Basketball Insiders. Oklahoma City was aggressive in its pursuit of Noel, including phone calls from Russell Westbrook and Paul George in the opening minutes of free agency. He agreed to a two-year deal worth nearly $3.7MM that contains a player option for next summer.
Noel has a lot to prove after being the sixth player taken in the 2013 draft. He was stuck in a center logjam in Philadelphia before being traded to Dallas midway through the 2016/17 season. Injuries limited him to 30 games in his only full year with the Mavericks, and he welcomes the chance for a fresh start with the Thunder.
“I really think it’s a great opportunity,” Noel said. “With the athleticism and the pieces that they have now, I think I can really come and make a significant difference to the speed of the game. It’s really been a great last few days, going to OKC, signing and just feeling very welcome from the whole organization — that really means a lot.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- The current Thunder roster is heavily imbalanced with wing players, notes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. This week’s signing of Hamidou Diallo gives OKC 15 players under contract, with eight of them being wings. That includes Kyle Singler, whom Tramel expects OKC to use the stretch provision on if it can’t find a team willing to take him in a trade. Singler has two more years and about $10.3MM left on his contract. The team has just two centers and two power forwards, raising concerns about depth at both positions.
- Trail Blazers fans deserve an explanation for how the team is handling its assets, writes John Canzano of The Oregonian. The latest puzzling move was letting a $12,969,502 trade exception from last year’s Allen Crabbe deal expire. Canzano retraces a history of questionable decisions, including mega free agent offers to Roy Hibbert, Greg Monroe and Chandler Parsons, who all signed elsewhere, and large contracts for Evan Turner, Festus Ezeli and Meyers Leonard that have clogged Portland’s cap space.
- The Timberwolves have an extension decision to make this summer on Tyus Jones, notes Derek James of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities. Coach Tom Thibodeau has promised Jones more playing time in the future, but that could be difficult to deliver with Derrick Rose returning and Josh Okogie as the team’s first-round pick.