The Mavericks and Pistons recently “touched base” on trade talks in which Nerlens Noel was among the players discussed, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley adds that Noel has drawn interest from multiple playoff teams in need of rim protection.
Noel was traded from the Knicks to the Pistons over the summer in a salary-dump deal and isn’t part of Detroit’s regular rotation in a crowded frontcourt that features Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley III, and rookie Jalen Duren. Noel has appeared in just six contests this season and hasn’t played more than six minutes in a game since November 4.
Still, the former lottery pick is only 28 years old and has some solid seasons on his NBA résumé, including his first year in New York in 2020/21. He averaged 5.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 2.2 BPG in 64 appearances (24.2 MPG) that season, providing energy and athleticism in the middle.
Since Noel has a team option for 2023/24, he’s essentially on an expiring contract, but his $9.24MM cap hit is sizable enough not to make him a positive asset. So if the Pistons hope to move him for anything of value, they may have to either attach another trade chip or take back some unwanted multiyear salary.
Dallas would be an interesting trade partner for the Pistons given that offseason signee JaVale McGee hasn’t gotten off to a great start as a Maverick, falling first out of the starting lineup, then out of the rotation entirely.
A report earlier this week suggested that the Mavs could explore the trade market for another center, with a preference for a defensive specialist who is a contrast to Christian Wood — Noel fits that bill. Plus, even though he earns more this season than McGee ($5.46MM), Noel’s expiring deal looks more team-friendly than McGee’s three-year contract, which will pay him $5.73MM next season with a $6MM+ player option for 2024/25 (he’ll turn 37 that season).
Noel had a previous stint in Dallas that began in February 2017 when he arrived in a trade from Philadelphia. That experience may have left a sour taste in his mouth, given that he turned down a $70MM offer from the Mavs as a free agent that summer, played on a $4.1MM qualifying offer during the 2017/18 season, and left Dallas in 2018 to sign a minimum-salary contract with Oklahoma City. Noel later filed a lawsuit against Rich Paul for the advice he received during that 2017 offseason; the case has since been redirected to NBA arbitration.