Nerlens Noel

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.”

Five Key 2017 Free Agents Impacted By Trades

Expiring contracts are a popular form of currency at the NBA trade deadline when teams are looking to get deals done and create future cap flexibility. In some cases, that means including a player like Andrew Bogut, who has an $11MM expiring contract, can be advantageous for both teams involved in a trade — by moving Bogut, the Mavericks avoided pushing up against the luxury tax, while the Sixers reached the salary floor.

Bogut was waived shortly after being traded to Philadelphia though, so his 2017 free agency wasn’t impacted in a real way by the deadline deal. However, there were several players moved in the hours, days, and weeks leading up to last month’s trade deadline who will be free agents in 2017 and whose change of scenery will significantly impact their situation this summer.

Here’s a closer look at five players eligible for free agency in 2017 who were affected by being traded in February, including one player who was involved in that Sixers/Mavs swap along with Bogut…

Nerlens Noel, Mavericks (RFA)Nerlens Noel vertical

For much of the 2016/17 season, Noel’s long-term outlook was cloudy. The Sixers certainly had no shortage of future cap room, which would have made it easy for them to match any offers Noel received in restricted free agency and retain him for several more years. It’s possible that – if they hadn’t found an acceptable trade offer at the deadline for Noel – they would have done just that this summer, rather than losing him for nothing.

But the Sixers never seemed like a logical long-term fit for Noel, with Joel Embiid in place as the team’s franchise center and Jahlil Okafor and Richaun Holmes also in the mix. While the club may have found a way to make an Embiid/Noel pairing work if the former sixth overall pick had remained on the roster, Noel reportedly preferred to be dealt to a team where he’d have the starting center job to himself.

In Dallas, he’ll have exactly that, and the Mavericks like Noel enough that they’re expected to match any offer sheet he signs this summer. Pursuing Noel in restricted free agency might have saved Dallas a couple second-round picks and the rights to Justin Anderson, but there was no guarantee the club could have pried him away from the Sixers or another team. Now, the Mavs will be the overwhelming favorites to retain Noel for the next few seasons.

Serge Ibaka, Raptors (UFA)

Ibaka is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, so where he finishes the season isn’t as significant as it would be for a restricted free agent like Noel. Still, for rival suitors hoping to land Ibaka, his move from Orlando to Toronto is a big deal.

When reports first began swirling about the Magic’s efforts to move Ibaka, several sources suggested that the odds of the big man re-signing in Orlando were slim. The Magic held Ibaka’s Bird rights at the time, giving them the opportunity to offer five years instead of four, with slightly larger raises, but with Orlando headed for the lottery, Ibaka seemed likely to seek out a team closer to contention.

Having been sent to the Raptors, Ibaka has found a team that fits that bill. GM Masai Ujiri has long coveted the former Thunder power forward, and all signs point to Toronto making a strong effort this summer to lock up Ibaka. Before (and after) the trade, the Raptors were in no position to open up a real chunk of cap room this summer, barring a major roster overhaul. So the fact that they now hold Ibaka’s Bird rights, giving them the ability to go over the cap to re-sign him, means they’ve gone from being a non-contender for his services to the new frontrunner.

Taj Gibson, Thunder (UFA)

Like Ibaka, Gibson is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s also not a candidate for a maximum salary offer or a five-year contract, so the fact that the Thunder hold his Bird rights isn’t as important as it would be for some other free agents.Taj Gibson vertical

Still, when an NBA veteran has spent the better part of eight seasons with a single franchise and that team trades him a few months before he hits free agency, the odds of him returning to that team probably aren’t great. During the last couple weeks, we’ve seen Gibson wear a different NBA uniform for the first time in his NBA career, and it’s possible that he’ll put on a third uniform later this year.

That’s not to say the Thunder should be ruled out as a candidate to sign Gibson though. Oklahoma City projects to remain over the cap this summer, so holding Gibson’s Bird rights could be important — if he proves to be a solid fit in OKC, the team would be able to go over the cap to re-sign him.

Bojan Bogdanovic, Wizards (RFA)

Despite playing in New York City, Bogdanovic was toiling in relative obscurity on the NBA-worst Nets this season. Now he’s a key contributor on the No. 3 seed in the East, and he has gotten off to a scorching start in Washington, making 3.3 three-pointers per game at a rate of 58.8% so far. He won’t stay that hot all season, but if he continues to make big shots and remains productive in the playoffs, he’ll improve his free agent stock much more than he could have in Brooklyn.

Bogdanovic’s move from Brooklyn to Washington also could create some interesting new scenarios when it comes to offer sheets. The Nets have plenty of long-term cap flexibility and could have matched any offer for Bogdanovic if they’d wanted to. The Wizards, on the other hand, have already committed major money to John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Ian Mahinmi, among others, and they’ll likely have to go up to the max – or close to it – to re-sign Otto Porter this summer. Will the team be willing to spend on Bogdanovic as well? That remains to be seen.

Mason Plumlee, Nuggets (RFA)

After re-signing three restricted free agents last offseason, the Trail Blazers apparently had no interest in going through the process again this year, and sent Plumlee to a team that has more flexibility to retain him this summer — Denver only has about $55MM in guaranteed salary on its 2017/18 books, as opposed to an incredible $132MM+ for Portland.

After starting every game he played in for the Blazers this season, Plumlee is coming off the bench in Denver, but that shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign that the Nuggets don’t like him. Having sent a first-round pick to Portland in the deal, the Nuggets presumably intend to match any offer sheet Plumlee gets as a restricted free agent, even though he’ll be a second-stringer behind Nikola Jokic. That’s discouraging news for any rival teams that had been hoping to swoop in and steal Plumlee away from the cap-strapped Blazers later this year.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Parsons, Noel, Cousins, Davis

Chandler Parsons played in back-to-back games for the first time since signing with the Grizzlies this summer, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. The action came Friday and Saturday against his two former teams, the Mavericks and Rockets, and although he didn’t put up great numbers, Memphis was encouraged to have him on the court. Parsons has battled through a string of injuries since joining the Grizzlies on a four-year, $94MM deal last summer, appearing in just 32 games so far and averaging less than 20 minutes per night. “Look, I signed a four-year deal. I didn’t sign a one-year deal,” Parsons said. “The team expectations for me are to go very slow. It’s going to be a long process.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Nerlens Noel may be claiming the Mavericks‘ starting center spot sooner than expected, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Noel made his first start Friday since joining the team and responded with 15 points and 17 rebounds in a win over the Grizzlies. “He did a good job, very active,” Carlisle said of his new big man. “It’s very difficult to outrebound this team and when you got a guy getting 17, that’s a big part of that. He did a very good job.”
  • Many thought the Pelicans were a sure thing to grab the final playoff spot after acquiring DeMarcus Cousins, but they’re running out of time to make a postseason push, notes Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune. New Orleans was two and a half games behind Denver for the eighth spot in the West when it traded for Cousins on February 25th. Since then, the Pelicans are 1-4, with the only victory coming in a game where Cousins was suspended. They have fallen to 24-38, which puts them in 13th place, four games in back of the Nuggets. “It’s still a work in progress,” Cousins said after Friday’s loss to the Spurs.
  • Cousins has adapted quickly to life in New Orleans, according to Justin Verrier of ESPN.com. He and Anthony Davis had a minus-11.9 net rating while sharing the court heading into Friday’s game, but individually they have the highest player efficiency ratings in the league since the All-Star break. Despite the struggles, Cousins has found no trouble settling into his new home. “He definitely embraced it all,” Davis said of Cousins’ experience on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans. “He kept telling me he was happy to be here.”

Deveney’s Latest: Griffin, CP3, Lowry, Wade

The Clippers delayed the inevitable, opting not to address their cap room situation at the trade deadline and instead leaving it to the summer. Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes that head coach Doc Rivers and president of basketball operations would have been wise to do something with either Jamal Crawford or Austin Rivers, who will be owed $26MM in 2017/18.

When the free agency period begins this summer, the Clippers will have the tough task of re-signing Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick. To do so comfortably, they would need to find a way to save money elsewhere. Paul, Deveney writes, could land a deal worth nearly $210MM over five years and isn’t likely to give the franchise a hometown discount.

Of note is that Deveney suggests that the Clippers may not automatically bring back Griffin on such a contract. He writes that if the team doesn’t make progress in the postseason this spring, they may be remiss to invest so much in their oft-injured big man.

Regardless of how the summer transactions play out for the Clippers, they could have been simplified had Rivers opted to address the problem mid-season rather than electing to kick the can further down the road.

There’s more from Deveney:

  • The Lakers, Sixers and Nuggets could all make a play for Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry this summer. The veteran playmaker will be due for a significant pay raise after establishing himself as an All-Star and a core component of a winning basketball club. Lowry considered the Lakers in 2014, Deveney writes, and could be partial to returning to his hometown of Philadelphia as well.
  • Consider the Nuggets among the frontrunners to pursue Dwyane Wade aggressively should he opt out of the final year of his deal with the Bulls. Though Chicago has been winning recently, the season has been a frustrating one for the organization. Deveney also mentions the Bucks as a possible landing spot because Wade’s alma matter, Marquette, is in Milwaukee.
  • The Mavericks have made it clear to newly acquired big man Nerlens Noel that they will meet any offer that the restricted free agent signs with other teams, Deveney says. The Mavs were able to get Noel relatively cheap from the Sixers and it appears they’re eager to factor him into their long-term plans.
  • The Wizards are intent on keeping forward Otto Porter in Washington, Deveney writes, even as the suddenly hot 23-year-old commodity, gets pursued by other teams like the Suns and Nets, as expected. As the pool of suitors grows, Porter’s price tag could approach max territory.

And-Ones: Hansbrough, Bogut, Jennings

Tyler Hansbrough has signed a contract with the D-League, Chris Reichert of The Step Back reports (Twitter link). Now 31 years old, Hansbrough played 44 games with the Hornets last season, receiving a career-worst 7.8 MPG. Hansbrough went unsigned as an unrestricted free agent over the offseason, but expressed interest in returning to Charlotte after 2015/16.

“Personally, when I was called, I felt like I went out there and helped the team in the ways that I could. I’d be glad to be back,” Hansbrough told Sam Perley of Hornets.com.

Other goings-on around the game…

  • The Rockets are unlikely to sign Andrew Bogut, sources tell Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets would like to add Bogut as insurance in case of a Clint Capela or Nene Hilario injury, but the big man may be looking for a bigger role.
  • The Pistons don’t appear to be interested in a reunion with Brandon Jennings, Rod Beards of The Detroit News relays. “With Ish here, I don’t think [Jennings] would be a fit. From Brandon’s standpoint, my guess is he wants to go somewhere he can play,” Van Gundy said. “In a contract year, especially, he needs to get playing time and get seen. I hope it works for him. I really like him and he’s able to land something good this summer.”
  • The BIG3 announced five additional players will register for its draft pool: James White, Andre OwensPops Mensah-Bonsu, Lawrence Moten, and Ndudi Ebi (press release). In April, BIG3 will hold a player combine for all players in the draft pool. While all five players have NBA experience, White most recently appeared in an NBA game- scoring 25 points over 57 games with the 2012/13 Knicks.
  • The Cavaliers could be the winner of the Nerlens Noel trade if Bogut decides to join the defending champs, John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Rumors linked Bogut to Cleveland over the weekend, but it was reported today that the big man has “strong interest” in joining the Celtics.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post

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