Nerlens Noel

Southwest Notes: Morey, Rockets, Noel, Ferrell, Mavericks

Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who recently signed a four-year extension, continues to work on large-scale moves after a quiet draft, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. On draft night, the Rockets had just one second-round pick and used it on Isaiah Hartenstein, who will remain overseas next season, Feigen tweets. The Rockets also traded their second-round pick, Dillon Brooks, to the Grizzlies for a second-round pick next season. Morey discussed his approach:

“We were very focused on two things, to get someone who can help us now and in the future. The second, we did a lot of potential discussions with teams that advanced a little bit today. Obviously, we’re focused on the team now, focused on chasing Golden State. Anything we can push in the future to help us upgrade the team, potentially through trade, we’re ready to do.”

The Rockets were discussing Paul George with the Pacers on Thursday and continue to do so, but nothing was considered close on draft day, per Feigen. The team was simultaneously having conversations directed at making cap room available if they needed it for an expensive free agent addition. Morey stated that the team was considering some deals to move into the first round of the draft, but the Rockets prioritized saving cap space to pursue big trades.

What else is going on in the Southwest division?:

Mavs Notes: Noel, Draft, Harris

Having performed admirably during his half season with the Mavs and said all the right things to the media, Nerlens Noel is an excellent option to man the paint in Dallas for years to come. Unfortunately, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News explains, the restricted free agent will likely field significant offers from other teams this summer for those very same reasons.

In the last edition of his SportsDay series ranking notable available players, Sefko rounds up the five most appealing free agent options at the center position (he recently wrote about the top five power forwards and the top five small forwards). Noel, not surprisingly, is ranked No. 1 by Sefko, although Dewayne Dedmon, Greg Monroe, Nene Hilario and Tiago Splitter round out the list. The scribe adds that the athletic big man would work well in this era and could contribute to what the Mavericks are trying to accomplish.

In April, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News wrote about Noel’s time with the franchise since the trade deadline day deal that sent him from Philadelphia south. In it, Townsend quotes Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle saying that the available center has “got to get signed”.

I’ve been impressed with him,” Carlisle added in the Townsend piece. “He’s a very likable guy. Guys in the locker room took to him. He’s an exciting young talent, and I do think he can expand his game.

There’s more from the Mavs:

  • Count veteran point guard Devin Harris among those who admire how the Warriors built their dynasty. Harris recently told the Dallas Morning News’ Eddie Sefko that the Mavs should look to draft wisely and hone their talent. Harris adds that building through free agency should be a secondary option considering that there is so much competition with other franchises.
  • The Mavs have been busy working out possible draftees, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News tweets. On Thursday the team saw Zach Collins (projected to go No. 10 by and Lauri Markkanen (No. 11). Dallas holds the No. 9 pick in the June 22 NBA Draft.
  • Hoops fans may have to wait a while for the next great NBA team to come and unseat the Warriors and there’s no reason to believe that, when it happens, it will be any less of a surprise than when Golden State rose to prominence by drafting Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in consecutive drafts. Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News writes that it may not be the Mavs who take the throne in 2020 but, then again, it could be anybody.

Mavericks Notes: Noel, Russell, Point Guards

Nerlens Noel has garnered comparisons to defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler for his rebounding and defensive abilities but injuries have stalled his progression. Following a midseason trade from the 76ers to the Mavericks, Noel posted 8.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 22 games. However, the 23-year-old will need several additional years to hone his game before he’s in that class, Eddie Sefko of Dallas Morning News opines.

Noel has shown glimpses of elite talent in his three NBA seasons but has generally been inconsistent. Sefko acknowledges that if the Mavericks envision a longterm future with Noel as a fixture, he will need two-to-three years of seasoning before he possibly reaches his potential. For his part, Noel, a restricted free agent, expressed his desire to remain in Dallas.

“I love Dallas,” Noel said last month (via The Sporting News). “In my short time here, I’ve really enjoyed it. With the pieces that we have, and the opportunities we’ll be seeing in the near future, I think there’s a lot to be excited for.”

Below are are additional Mavericks notes:

  • In a separate piece, Sefko examines the possibility of the Mavericks pursuing Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers own the second overall pick in the NBA Draft and if they draft UCLA standout Lonzo Ball, having two point guards may be redundant for the Lakers. If Dallas fails to draft a solid point guard, Sefko believes Dallas will call Los Angeles to discuss Russell but the price to acquire a second overall pick from two seasons ago will likely be astronomical.
  • Sefko further delved into the Mavericks’ point guard situation, stating emphatically that the team needs to acquire someone who can shoot. The aforementioned Russell fits the mold as the 21-year-old has averaged 14.3 PPG in his two NBA seasons. In-house options like Devin Harris, Yogi Ferrell, and J.J. Barea are also strong options for Dallas but a more established option makes sense.

Texas Notes: Noel, Ntilikina, Spurs, Capela

The Mavericks aren’t worried about losing restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Noel, who was acquired from the Sixers in a deadline-day trade, has stated that he likes the city and coach Rick Carlisle. The third-year center averaged 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game after arriving in Dallas. The Mavericks can match any offer that Noel gets from another franchise, but Sefko doesn’t think that will be necessary. He expects the parties to work out a long-term deal after the Mavs get a chance to maximize their available cap room.

There’s more news tonight out of Texas:

  • The Mavericks are very interested in French point guard Frank Ntilikina, Sefko notes in the same story. At 6’5″, Ntilikina’s size and ballhandling skills have impressed Dallas scouts, but there are fears that he might be selected before the team’s pick at No. 9. The Mavericks were hoping to get a closer look at Ntilikina at this week’s combine in Chicago, but he declined an invitation.
  • The Spurs were able to shake off a season-ending injury to Tony Parker because other players stepped up in his place in Game 3, according to Fran Blinebury of LaMarcus Aldridge had his best game of the series, and Jonathon Simmons and Dejounte Murray both gave San Antonio what it needed in a 103-92 victory. Veteran center Pau Gasol said the team had to get over the mental aspect of not having Parker. “We understand how much Tony means to this team, what he brings to the table and how well he was playing for us in the playoffs, making huge plays at critical points in critical games,” Gasol said. “He will be missed on the floor and off the floor, because he’s an emotional leader for this team. He brings a lot of poise, a lot of leadership.”
  • Rockets center Clint Capela is making a strong case for an offseason extension with his playoff performance. Akeem Olajuwon was the last Houston center to put up playoff numbers similar to Capela’s 12 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks in Game 3, notes Brett Zwerneman of The Houston Chronicle. “He’s come from sitting on the end of the bench and playing a little bit of minutes to being a force out there,” said coach Mike D’Antoni. “This guy is going to be really good.”

Southwest Notes: Nene, Rockets, Mavs, Pelicans

While much of the praise this year for Daryl Morey‘s work in the 2016 offseason has focused on the Rockets‘ additions of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, the team’s decision to sign Nene to a modest one-year contract has also paid off in a huge way.

In a piece for The Undefeated, Marc J. Spears takes a closer look at the impact the veteran center has had in Houston, and shares an interesting tidbit: Nene actually contemplated retirement before deciding to sign with the Rockets last summer. Having battled injuries for much of his career, Nene has managed to stay healthy this season, and Houston’s success has him “loving basketball again,” according to Spears.

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • The Rockets and a handful of other NBA teams are “gathering intel” on Argentinean point guard Facundo Campazzo, according to international basketball journalist David Pick (Twitter link). Campazzo, whose contract with Real Madrid is ending, doesn’t have an interest in extending that deal, per Pick, and the 26-year-old has been talking since last year about making the leap to the NBA.
  • In a chat with readers for the Dallas Morning News, Mavericks beat writer Eddie Sefko wonders if the team’s newfound youth movement will extend into the offseason, or if the team will use its lottery pick as a chip to acquire a more established NBA player. Sefko also suggests that it wouldn’t be crazy if Dallas kicked the tires on Carmelo Anthony, though that sounds like speculation.
  • Sefko doesn’t expect the Mavericks to face a serious challenge in their effort to lock up Nerlens Noel to a long-term deal. Unless one side “wants to play hardball with the numbers,” a deal should get done relatively quickly once free agency opens, in Sefko’s opinion.
  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post and Bobby Marks of The Vertical each examine the upcoming offseason for the Pelicans, which both scribes pointing to Jrue Holiday‘s looming free agency as perhaps the most important storyline of the summer for New Orleans.

Mavs Notes: Curry, Noel, Hammons, Harris, Cuban

On the heels of a 33-49 season, the Mavericks will focus on improving their roster via free agency and the draft. Eddie Sefko of Dallas Morning News suggested two veteran FAs to provide an immediate boost: Serge Ibaka and J.J. Redick. Sefko explains that Ibaka is a “big-time rebounder” who is still relatively young, while Redick would help shore up the team’s mediocre shooting.

Sefko cautions against hoping for a point guard improvement through the draft. Unless the Mavs “get lucky” and secure one of the top two picks, they’re unlikely to obtain a top-shelf guard. In the event Dallas winds up with the 8, 9, or 10 pick, Sefko cites Jonathan Isaac, Miles Bridges, and Lauri Markkanen as potential fits.

More from Dallas…

  • Seth Curry, who missed the season’s final seven games due to a left shoulder injury, hopes to avoid undergoing surgery over the offseason. “It’s still a possibility, but I don’t think it’s necessary at this point,” Curry told Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
  • Former Purdue Boilermaker A.J. Hammons got his feet wet in the NBA this past season, scoring 43 points with 36 rebounds over 22 games. While Hammons’ contract is guaranteed over the next two seasons, Eddie Sefko of Dallas Morning News is skeptical of his role on the team in 2017/18. “I like the big guy, but I haven’t seen a passion for wanting to improve,” Sefko writes. “He loves to sit out there and launch jump shots. But I think his calling in this league has to be as a strong rebounder and rim protector. My bottom line: doubtful that he is here next season.”
  • While he appears set to enter the market as a restricted free agent, Nerlens Noel‘s recent remarks to Brad Townsend of Dallas Morning News imply he’d like another season in Dallas. “I love Dallas,” Noel said. “In my short time here, I’ve really enjoyed it. With the pieces that we have, and the opportunities we’ll be seeing in the near-future, I think there’s a lot to be excited for.” 
  • While Devin Harris isn’t a lock to start next season with Dallas, one thing is certain: the 34-year-old isn’t retiring. “Definitely not retiring,” Harris told Adam Grosbard of Dallas Morning News. The Mavs are unsure whether they will exercise Harris’ $4.4MM option for 2017/18. Harris averaged 16/7 minutes in 2016/17; the lowest total since his rookie season. “Ball’s in their court. I just let the chips fall where they may and try to make the best decision possible with the information that I have.”
  • In a 109-91 loss to the Nuggets- the Mavs’ penultimate game of the season- coach Rick Carlisle gave six players 25-years-old or younger significant playing time. Mark Cuban spoke to Adam Grosbard of Dallas Morning News, explaining the strategy of giving younger players minutes down the stretch. “When we were playing for it, we obviously had some bad games but it’s obvious our young guys are getting better. And that’s all you can ask for,” Cuban said. Dirk Nowtizki seconded Cuban’s remarks, adding “It’s been fun to watch these kids.”

Potential 2017 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will go into effect on July 1, 2017, includes a number of changes to the free agent process, including some that apply specifically to restricted free agents. However, one aspect of restricted free agency unaffected by the new CBA is what’s referred to as the “starter criteria,” which can affect how much an RFA’s qualifying offer will be worth.

Here’s how the starter criteria works: A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency. A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2015/16 and 35 in 2016/17, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons exceeds 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player ensures that a team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet, and gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO. Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. Still, those QOs can have an impact on a team’s salary cap outlook during July’s free agent period, so it’s worth checking in to see which potential RFAs will be eligible for higher or lower qualifying offers this summer.

Listed below are the top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,187,598.

Len and Noel had the worst QO luck this season. As the fifth and sixth overall picks in 2013, they would have been in line for qualifying offers worth about $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively. Instead, their QOs will be worth less than $4.2MM. Both players were very close to meeting the starter criteria too — they’ve started 77 games apiece in the past two years, so they’ll fall just short of the 82 required.

The players listed below are non-lottery first-round picks who will meet the starter criteria. That will make each of them eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,588,840.

All four of these players were selected in the 20-26 range in the 2013 draft, and their QOs would’ve ranged from about $3.39MM to $3.22MM if they hadn’t met the starter criteria.

Here are the rest of the RFAs whose qualifying offers won’t necessarily be determined by the standard criteria:

  • Undrafted power forward JaMychal Green (Grizzlies) has met the starter criteria, putting him in line for a QO worth $2,820,497 instead of the more modest amount he would’ve received as a minimum-salary player.
  • Two players – Joe Ingles (Jazz) and Ben McLemore (Kings) – still have a chance to meet the starter criteria depending on how the season’s last four days play out. Ingles has played 1,848 minutes this season, meaning he would have to average about 38 MPG in Utah’s last four contests to reach 2,000, which is a tall order. McLemore may fall just short as well, as he currently sits at 79 starts over the last two seasons. He’ll need to start three of the Kings’ last four games in order to average 41 starts per year, but he has only been in Sacramento’s starting lineup twice since the start of March. (End-of-season update: Neither Ingles nor McLemore met the starter criteria.)

And-Ones: Embiid, Noel, Monk, Hayward

The Sixers expect Joel Embiid, who underwent surgery on his left knee on Friday, to resume basketball activities this summer, Jessica Camerato of Comcast Sportsnet relays.

“Joel, his representatives and our medical staff conducted extensive research based on prioritizing the best possible treatment and recovery outcome for Joel’s knee injury resulting in today’s procedure by Dr. ElAttrache,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said. “We are very pleased with his post-surgical assessment and forecast for a healthy return to basketball activity.”

This was Embiid’s third surgery of his young career. He underwent two separate procedures on his foot, which forced him to miss his first two seasons in the league. He was only able to play 31 games this season before the Sixers shut him down for the year with the knee ailment.

Here’s more from around the league.

  • Coach Rick Carlisle believes Nerlens Noel deserves to be a starter in the league, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News passes along. “That’s why we traded for him,” Carlisle said. He added that the Mavericks will eventually work with Noel on expanding his range, though “it’s not a big priority for now.”
  • Steve Serby of the New York Post examines Kentucky’s backcourt and believes both Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox would be good fits for the Knicks. Both players are expected to be top-10 picks and New York currently owns the No. 5 spot in our Reverse Standings.
  • Gordon Hayward left tonight’s game against the Clippers with a knee injury, but the X-rays came back negative, Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News reports. Coach Quin Snyder said that the team’s All-Star will be “fine.” The Jazz currently own the fourth seed in the Western Conference, though Los Angeles sits just 0.5 games back of that spot.

Southwest Notes: Noel, Pau, Ginobili, Dirk, Curry

Since Tyson Chandler left the Mavericks following their championship in 2011, the club has been on the lookout for a long-term center, settling for a series of stop-gap solutions instead. As Tim MacMahon of writes, the Mavs may have finally found a permanent answer at the position after acquiring Nerlens Noel at this year’s trade deadline. Noel will be a restricted free agent this summer, but Dallas is willing to pay big money to keep him in the fold.

“I definitely feel like I’m in a position to be a long-term situation here,” said Noel, who was sent from the Sixers to the Mavericks a month ago. “There are a lot of things that come into it, but I’m definitely comfortable in the system. I’m going to continue to grow as this season ends and continue to capitalize on my opportunities and maybe even get more opportunities.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • Asked once again about the possibility of eventually returning to Barcelona to finish his basketball career, Pau Gasol reiterated that it’s unlikely, per (via Sportando). However, Gasol didn’t completely rule out the idea. We recently identified Gasol’s 2017/18 player option with the Spurs as one of several offseason decisions to watch.
  • As Jeff Garcia of News 4 San Antonio details, Manu Ginobili recently hinted in an interview with LU2 Radio Bahia Blanca in Argentina that this season could be his last in the NBA. While the longtime Spurs guard didn’t explicitly state that he plans to retire this summer, he admitted that he doesn’t think his career will “go much longer” as his 40th birthday nears. “Now, basketball is not a priority and I live more peacefully,” Ginobili said. “My priority is my family, my children.”
  • Like Ginobili, Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is in the twilight of his career, but tells Michael Lee of The Vertical that he’ll keep playing as long as he still loves the game and his health continues to hold up. And if he ultimately retires with just one championship ring, Nowitzki will be satisfied with that. “I want to win,” he said. “I’d love to be on a great team again. And to play for a championship again, but I’m a big believer in whatever happens, happens. I’ll keep plugging for as long as it goes and then it’s time to go away.”
  • Many basketball fans simply know Seth Curry as Stephen Curry‘s brother, but the Mavericks sharpshooter is blazing his own NBA trail and enjoying a breakout season in Dallas, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News.

Sixers Notes: Saric, Holmes, Okafor

Consider Dario Saric and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot a testament to the benefit of players developing in Europe. Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer recently published a column about how the Sixers’ pair gained more from their experiences abroad than they would have in a single year with an NCAA program.

Their background in European system and style, et cetera, completely helps them be expedited when they enter an NBA court,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown told him, “unlike a one-and-done guy from Kentucky or Duke.”

Past and present big men Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, of course, are one-and-done guys from Kentucky and Duke.

Hayes argues that Saric and Luwawu-Cabarrot have a maturity and toughness that has allowed them to excel this season. The former has put up 19.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game since Feb. 9 while the latter has added 7.6 points per despite only getting promoted to the starting lineup on March 11.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The solid play of Richaun Holmes has validated the Sixers’ decision to ship Noel off to Dallas, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Noel posted 24 points and 9 rebounds twice in his 171 game stay with Philadelphia, Holmes has done it twice in the past ten days.
  • Though he’s missed action with a sore knee, the Sixers have no plans to shut down Okafor for the remainder of the season. Head coach Brett Brown suggested to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer that doing so would over-dramatize the injury.
  • Don’t get it twisted — while the current executive staff is getting a lot of credit for the upstart Sixers, the Iceberg Theory of Success is applicable. Josh Wilson of Fansided’s The Sixers Sense explains.
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