Nerlens Noel

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 ESPN.com 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 CCMA.cat (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.

Details On Paul George Talks Between Sixers, Pacers

In a piece for ESPN.com earlier today, Zach Lowe noted that the Pacers engaged in Paul George trade talks with the Celtics, Hawks, Nuggets, and Sixers at last month’s trade deadline. Boston’s interest in George was well documented, and we heard right after the deadline that Atlanta and Denver made substantial offers for the star forward. However, specific details regarding Philadelphia’s interest in George hadn’t surfaced until now.

Following up on Lowe’s report, Kyle Neubeck of Liberty Ballers did some digging on those pre-deadline trade talks, and learned from multiple sources that the Sixers made a “significant” offer of their own for George. According to Neubeck, the Sixers were willing to give up Robert Covington, at least two first-round picks, and the Pacers’ choice of Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor. The Sixers reportedly preferred to include other teams’ picks – such as the Lakers’ and Kings’ first-rounders – rather than their own.

Neubeck adds that there wasn’t a consensus among his sources about the Noel/Okafor aspect of the 76ers’ hypothetical package. One source said that the team specifically offered Noel, while others suggested that Philadelphia would have been willing to sub in Okafor if it made a real difference to the Pacers. Ultimately, Noel was sent to the Mavericks instead, while Okafor stayed put.

According to one member of the Sixers, the team wasn’t turned off by George’s reported interest in the Lakers. Neubeck writes that the Sixers believed that if they acquired George they could convince him to stay in Philadelphia long-term, forming a tantalizing core with players like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Dario Saric.

As Lowe wrote earlier today, the Pacers never appeared all that serious about moving George at this year’s trade deadline, but it’s possible that stance will change down the road. Even with Noel no longer in the mix, the Sixers still have plenty of assets to make another run at All-Star forward, if they so choose.

Mavericks Notes: Noel, Harris, Ferrell, Singh

Nerlens Noel, who will play his old team in Philadelphia for the first time tonight since being traded to the Mavericks last month, believes that the culture in Dallas is “only going to help” him as he looks to improve his game. As Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes, Noel’s brief time in Dallas so far has already given him a new perspective on the kind of influence that talented veteran players can have on him and his younger teammates.

“It’s a whole different type of culture, adjusting to the way things are done here,” Noel said. “The veteran leadership is something that’s big. The older guys are always holding the young guys accountable. … I’ve been in this league long enough now to know where I need to be at and especially not having any veterans early on. This team having mostly veterans is only going to help me.”

As Noel and the Mavs prepare to take on the Sixers, let’s round up a few more notes out of Dallas…

  • Veteran guard Devin Harris spoke to Raul Barrigon of HoopsHype about his new teammates in Dallas, the possibility of eventually playing for his hometown Bucks, and his desire to return to the Mavericks next season. Harris is under contract for about $4.4MM, but that 2017/18 salary is non-guaranteed.
  • Appearing on The Vertical’s Chris Mannix Show, Yogi Ferrell suggested that he can’t imagine being in a better situation than the one he has landed in with the Mavs. The Dallas Morning News passes along some other notable quotes from the interview with Ferrell.
  • The Mavericks have typically had plenty of roster turnover each offseason, but owner Mark Cuban would like to see a little more continuity this year with the current group, as Sefko writes for The Morning News.
  • Satnam Singh was the subject of international headlines when he became the first Indian-born player to be drafted back in 2015, but he has yet to make his NBA debut. Thomas Neumann of ESPN.com takes an interesting and in-depth look at Singh’s quest to make it to the NBA as he continues to spend time with the Mavs’ D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends.

Mark Cuban: “We’ve Gone Through A Rebuild In One Season”

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban discussed his team in a Q&A with Shaun Powell of NBA.com. The interview spanned a variety of subjects- even touching on politics toward the end- but Cuban was sure to praise the “reinvigorated” Dirk Nowitzki, as well as scrappy guards Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry.

“This has reinvigorated Dirk. He sees the big picture,” Cuban said of Nowitzki’s choice to ‘ride it out’ in Dallas. “We’re in a win-win situation. We lose, we get a better draft pick, we win we get into the playoffs. It’s fun. It feels a lot more like 2000 when I first brought the team. All this young energy, exciting, fun to watch, we’re at a place where we’re not supposed to be.”

Cuban has reason to be pleased with Dallas’ season. Having gotten off to a 5-18 start in 2016/17, it looked as though the Mavs were in for a lost season. Several key contributors have helped right the ship, however. Ferrell and Curry have supplanted J.J. Barea and Devin Harris as Rick Carlisle‘s primary guards, Harrison Barnes has overcome a shaky start to the season, and Nerlens Noel looks like a stellar trade deadline pick-up.

“He has the most understated swag I’ve ever seen. His brother [Stephen] likes to dance. Seth will just kill you and then give you a little hand motion. He’s so non-demonstrative,” Cuban said. “To me, the more of a show you put on when you do something, the less swag you have. He doesn’t tell you, he scoreboards you, and to me, that’s the ultimate swag. We want him to be here forever. He’s our kind of guy.”

In Cuban’s mind, the team’s abbreviated rebuilding period has been a group effort.

“We’ve basically gone through a rebuild in one season. It’s a credit to Rick (Carlisle, the Mavericks coach) but also everyone on this team,” Cuban said. “There’s still a lot more to do. Nobody’s writing us in for The Finals this year. Our guys really worked hard, as hard or harder than any team in the league. Look at Miami. They’ve undergone a lot of changes too, much like we have, and they just play harder. I remember the Celtics after they traded off Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and they tried to find themselves and they did that by playing their asses off. That’s who we are now. Teams kind of look at our talent and don’t know what to expect but it’s hard to keep up with us when you go 15 deep with guys playing hard. It’s our calling card. I love it.”

Sixers Notes: Okafor, Splitter, Brown, Silver

Despite a lingering knee injury, Jahlil Okafor hasn’t considered shutting down his season, Jessica Camerato of CSN reports (Twitter link). Okafor’s been experiencing soreness ever since a March 2016 surgery, but the former No. 3 overall pick will be relied upon in Nerlens Noel‘s and Joel Embiid‘s absence.

“We just rest and do treatment whenever we think is necessary, and just go from there.” Okafor told Keith Pompey of Philly.com.

More from Philadelphia…

  • Tiago Splitter could spend part of his rehabilitation process with the Delaware 87ers, as Keith Pompey relayed in the article linked above. Splitter, who has been sidelined with a calf injury all season, was acquired in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova at the trade deadline. “We are discussing his return to play. Some of it could look like involvement with D-League stuff, practicing, maybe playing,” coach Brett Brown said. “It’s a vehicle to return to play. He hasn’t played basketball for a year. I think the path to return to play can take different looks. That’s one of them that I just suggested.”
  • Commissioner Adam Silver told Brian Seltzer of NBA.com that he is excited about the Sixers’ progress this season. “It’s fun coming to games here. Just as I was walking through the tunnel pre-game, I ran into Allen Iverson and Julius Erving. [It’s] nice to see that they’re back, they’re believers, and I am, too,” Silver said. “This is a great sports town. Understandably, the fans are very demanding here. They expect to see a great product on the floor. I know the ownership is committed to that. It takes time to build a great franchise.”
  • The Sixers have shifted their focus toward acquiring a top lottery draft pick, Keith Pompey of Philly.com writes. After shipping out Ilyasova and Noel at the deadline, they’ve recently given playing opportunities to Justin Harper and Shawn Long“The realities of our roster are very clear to everybody. There’s no mystery to what our roster is right now,” coach Brown said. “It’s going to take some extra effort and extra luck in finding ways to compete.”
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