Nerlens Noel

Southwest Notes: Noel, Grizzlies, Clavell

There have been no shortages of distractions throughout Nerlens Noel‘s basketball career and that’s not about to change during the 2017/18 campaign. As Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post writes, the Mavs center will approach this season with his unrestricted free agency looming.

Still just 23 years old, Noel has already dealt with injuries, trade rumors and free agency speculation across stops with Kentucky, the Sixers and now the Mavs. This year he’ll look to earn a substantial offseason payday despite starting the season as Dallas’ backup center.

With Dirk Nowitzki slotted ahead of him at the five, Noel will be utilized off the bench as an athletic post defender with the ability to check guards on the perimeter. The Mavs will also look to employ his ability to crash the net in pick-and-roll situations, with a keen eye on how the young center might fit with the franchise long-term, in the post-Nowitzki era.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The addition of Mario Chalmers gives the Grizzlies the option to be more selective with who they incorporate into their rotaiton between Andrew Harrison and Wade Baldwin. Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal speculates that the club could continue to develop Baldwin and, reluctantly, waive Harrison.
  • The Mavs only have 12 players currently on guaranteed deals. It turns out, Gian Clavell could be one of their seven players on non-guaranteed deals to convince the team to keep him on for the full year. Earl Sneed of tweets that the guard has made a strong case for making the squad.
  • Utility man Dante Cunningham is capable of playing multiple positions, doing dirty work and doing it all with a smile. That flexibility is what endeared him to Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, who will trot him out as the team’s starting small forward in 2017/18, Scott Kushner of The New Orleans Advocate writes.

Southwest Rumors: Noel, Carmelo, Tucker, Pondexter

Mavs big man Nerlens Noel will likely come off the bench this season behind Dirk Nowitzki, coach Rick Carlisle told Tim MacMahon of ESPN and other media members. Noel started 12 of 22 games after being acquired from the 76ers in February. Carlisle informed Noel and agent Rich Paul of his plans over the weekend, MacMahon adds. “At this point in time, Dirk at the 5 position is probably the best scenario for Dirk and for our team, and I just don’t think that Dirk is a guy that’s going to come off the bench as long as I’m here,” Carlisle said. “So there’s a very good chance that Nerlens will come off the bench.” Noel had a tumultuous summer as a restricted free agent, changing agents and ultimately signing Dallas’ qualifying offer of $4.1MM when he didn’t get the contract offers he expected. Noel will an unrestricted free agent next summer.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets were never close to acquiring Carmelo Anthony before he was traded to the Thunder, according to a Houston Chronicle report. GM Daryl Morey said he wasn’t disappointed that he failed to work out something with the Knicks, the report adds. “We were involved in rumors in a situation he was very interested in coming here,” he said. “We had some interest if we could maybe work it out, but never did.”
  • Small forward P.J. Tucker will miss some of training camp because of a hamstring injury, according to another Chronicle report. Tucker suffered the injury during a recent workout but it’s not considered a major issue, the report adds. Tucker signed a four-year contract with the Rockets as a free agent this summer.
  • Former Pelicans forward Quincy Pondexter contracted a life-threatening infection while awaiting a third surgery on his problematic knee in January, he told Chris Haynes of ESPN. He required surgery to flush out the infection and spent a month in the hospital after the knee operation, Haynes continues. Pondexter was then dealt to the Bulls earlier this month. “It was a shock,” Pondexter told Haynes. “I was tired of letting the organization and fans down the last two years, and I wanted to do my best to help the Pelicans return to the playoffs. It was definitely a gut punch.” He also said he was never fined or missed an appointment during his knee rehab in 2015, refuted what coach Alvin Gentry claimed at the time.
  • Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge shrugged off the trade rumors this summer and came to camp with something to prove, Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News reports. “I’m a guy who is never satisfied,” he told Rohlin. “I’m definitely going to show that I can play my game and I’m still good.”

Southwest Notes: Asik, Parsons, Rockets, Noel

Pelicans center Omer Asik, who appeared in just 31 games during the 2016/17 season, won’t be ready to start training camp this week, according to Scott Kushner of The Advocate, who tweets that Asik is being treated for Crohn’s disease. General manager Dell Demps indicated today that Asik will be away from the team for camp, and there’s no timetable for his return to the court (Twitter link via Daniel Sallerson).

For his part, the Pelicans big man says even with no timetable for his return, he’s feeling much better. Asik’s health problems, which began with a parasite, have persisted for much of 2017, and he didn’t start feeling normal until last month (Twitter links via Kushner).

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace confirmed at the club’s Media Day that Chandler Parsons is healthy and ready to go for camp. Parson, who has been playing five-on-five ball, will be a full participant, tweets Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  • While some NBA observers have concerns about how Chris Paul and James Harden will mesh in Houston, Rockets president of basketball operations Daryl Morey isn’t worried, suggesting today that the club is “100% certain” it will work (Twitter link via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle).
  • Ryan Anderson was able to breathe a sigh of relief this weekend when New York sent Carmelo Anthony to a team besides the Rockets. Speaking today to reporters, including Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter links), Anderson said he talked frequently to the Rockets’ brass and believed there was a “low probability” of being dealt, which he appreciated, since he and his family “love” Houston.
  • Addressing Nerlens Noel‘s role with the Mavericks, head coach Rick Carlisle said today that the big man will likely come off the bench, adding that Noel is okay with that (Twitter links via Earl K. Sneed of When he took center stage at Media Day, Noel was asked about signing the one-year qualifying offer with the Mavs and replied, “I love the city of Dallas. I do. But we all know what happens with this business.”

Mark Cuban Talks Nerlens Noel, Restricted Free Agency

After the Mavericks acquired Nerlens Noel at last season’s trade deadline, many assumed the team would follow up the transaction by locking up the center to a long-term deal. Noel ended up signing his qualifying offer, which will allow him to hit the market again next summer, but this time, as an unrestricted free agent. Owner Mark Cuban said he was satisfied with the result, though he would have rather inked the Kentucky product to a longer deal, as he tells Tim Cowlishaw on his local radio program (h/t Dallas Morning News).

“We made what we thought was a significant offer,” Cuban said. “Nerlens decided to bet on himself and now we’re in a position where if everybody comes out ahead this coming season, he’ll get paid, we’ll be happy and we’ll go on with life. He’s not going to be the first player to bet on himself and he won’t be the last.”

Cuban believes this year’s crop of restricted free agents were unfortunate because many teams over-spent last offseason. The salary cap was expected to go significantly this offseason, though that didn’t happen and many players saw less than desirable offers because teams didn’t plan for that scenario. Cuban added that Noel understands the market and despite being unable to land a massive deal, the big man has remained positive.

“I’ve talked to him since and he’s like, ‘I’m ready to do this. Let’s go out and have a great year.’ He’s just got that positive attitude and that’s been great. Look, the whole time–I’ve got to give Nerlens props–while all of this was going on, he was very positive. It was like look, ‘Our agents are our agents and they’re doing their thing but I’m excited.’ So I give him a ton of credit,” Cuban said.

And-Ones: Surprises, EuroBasket, Australia

The Timberwolves haven’t made the postseason in 14 seasons. That could change this year, Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders writes, in a feature profiling five teams that could surprise in 2017/18. The Wolves have made no secret their desire to surround their promising young core with as many established veterans as possible and it’s likely to pay off in the form of a playoff appearance.

Another team Rhodes mentions is the Pelicans, who will break camp for the first time with both Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins on the roster. It’s not unreasonable, Rhodes suggests, to call Davis and Cousins the best players in the NBA at their respective positions.

Other teams that the scribe considers on the rise include the Lakers, Hornets and Pacers, the latter perhaps reeling from the loss of its superstar but still boasting plenty of versatile talent on the roster.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • There are no shortage of past, present and future NBA players on EuroBasket 2017 rosters. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype recently made a list of them all, broken down by nationality. (We see you, Anthony Randolph).
  • The Australian National Basketball League isn’t a high profile international league like the Spanish ACB, Turkish BSL or Russian VTP leagues but it’s growing in popularity, Chris Reichert of 2 Ways, 10 Days writes.
  • The only restricted free agent to accept a qualifying offer in the NBA this summer is Mavs center Nerlens Noel. In his latest feature, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders breaks down the unique contract type, what it means for the players who sign them and what, typically, happens next.
  • For those keeping track at home, the NBA has doled out over $2B less this summer than it did last summer. That’s a decrease of 42.6%, tweets Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal.

Revisiting Nerlens Noel’s Free Agency

Mavericks big man Nerlens Noel headed into restricted free agency with expectations of walking away with an long-term max deal, or something close to it. Instead, it turned into a contentious and drawn-out odyssey, with Noel eventually signing his one-year qualifying offer. He’ll head back into the free agent market next summer as an unrestricted free agent, hoping to the secure the contract he was hoping for this summer.

Noel was offered a four-year, $70MM contract by Dallas when he entered free agency at the beginning of July, Chris Haynes of ESPN confirmed to Hoops Rumors on Sunday, but the Mavericks soon pulled if off the table after Noel – represented at the time by agent Happy Walters – rejected it. That offer was not on the table for Noel later in free agency.

Let’s look at the timeline of events during Noel’s foray into restricted free agency:

JUNE 27: The Mavs tender the qualifying offer of $4,187,598 to Noel, making him a restricted free agent.

JULY 1: Mavs owner Mark Cuban has a “great call” with Noel and puts the $70MM on the table. Noel expresses a desire to re-sign but decides to wait and see what the market will bear. The offer is soon pulled.

JULY 5: The Hawks reportedly show interest in Noel after trading Dwight Howard and allowing free agency Paul Millsap to walk. They ultimately decide not to extend an offer sheet.

JULY 18: Noel and the Mavs remain far apart in negotiations. Walters tells the Dallas Morning News that his client is “very disappointed where things stand” and hasn’t received a “serious offer.”

AUGUST 21: Agitated how the process played out, Noel fires Walters and hires Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Paul is the agent for LeBron James and John Wall, among many other NBA players.

AUGUST 26: Noel signs the qualifying offer, gambling that he’ll find more success in the open market next summer. The Mavs now need Noel’s approval to deal him before he becomes a free agent and he’ll have to surrender his Bird rights if he agrees to a trade. Meanwhile, Walters confirms that his former client turned down a four-year, $70MM offer from Dallas earlier in free agency, adding, “You can only advise. You cannot force people to do things they feel strongly about.” (Twitter links).

Noel’s situation is a prime example of how restricted free agency doesn’t work out for every player. While some – like Otto Porter and Tim Hardaway Jr. – benefit from a system that forces rival teams to overpay for an RFA to increase their chances of landing him, others can be left out in the cold once cap room dries up around the NBA.

Nikola Mirotic (Bulls), Alex Len (Suns), Mason Plumlee (Nuggets), and JaMychal Green (Grizzlies) are still restricted free agents, and it will be interesting to see whether any of them sign lucrative, long-term contracts this summer, or whether their free agency sagas ultimately end up looking more like Noel’s.

West Notes: Randle, Noel, Donovan

With all of the hype surrounding the Lakers these days, those who’ve overlooked Julius Randle can be forgiven. As Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype writes, however, the underrated big man could still be a viable component of Los Angeles’ intriguing young core.

While his effective field-goal percentage and value over replacement player figures have left much to be desired, the versatile forward is in position to take yet another leap forward in his third full season with the Lakers.

In 2016/17, Randle became just the ninth forward in NBA history to average 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, a testament to his playmaking ability and tendency to find his Lakers teammates.

What’s more, the Lakers big man has shown an impressive commitment to conditioning and has the Instagram account to prove it.

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • We wrote yesterday that Nerlens Noel unexpectedly signed his qualifying offer with the Mavs after supposedly turning down a four-year, $70MM offer. At the time of the signing, ESPN’s Chris Haynes tweeted that the four-year deal was “non-existent.” Shortly after news broke, Noel’s former agent Happy Walters responded to the Haynes tweet, insisting that the deal was in fact extended and rejected, however that doesn’t necessarily mean that the offer was still on the table when Noel’s new representation, Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Group, took over in the negotiation process. For a breakdown of the process, check out Isaac Harris of The Smoking Cuban‘s recap.
  • Former Spurs guard Blake Ahearn has returned to the organization he spent his three-game career with as a head coach of the Spurs’ G League affiliate. Ahearn recently spoke with Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News and shed light on how much of an impact R.C. Buford and the team’s front office made on him.
  • Big man Steven Adams and his Thunder head coach, Billy Donovan, have spent time bonding in Adams’ native New Zealand, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes. “For me, there’s an incredible power with a group of people that are connected in what they’re doing,” Donovan said. “I feel like my job, my role, my responsibility – whether it be during the season or in the offseason – is to try and create those connections. Because if we’re all unified, connected and moving in the right direction, it has a chance to be something really powerful.

Southwest Notes: Noel, Green, Allen, Nene

By accepting a $4.1MM qualifying offer, Mavericks center Nerlens Noel has created a financial drama that will last through the season, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. He decided to take the one-year deal after consulting with his new agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, whom Noel just hired this week. It was an unexpected end to negotiations for the third-year big man, who reportedly turned down a four-year, $70MM offer earlier this summer.

Noel is betting that he can get something close to the max as an unrestricted free agent next year, but Townsend notes that he is also taking a serious risk after missing the entire 2013/14 season after knee ligament surgery. He has played 75, 67 and 51 in the three seasons since then. By refusing the original offer, Noel cost himself about $11.5MM this season and will need a new deal starting at about $20MM to make up the difference.

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:
  • Noel’s decision gives the Mavericks about $12MM in unexpected cap space, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN [insider account]. Only the Bulls and Sixers have more, although the Suns could surpass Dallas if Alex Len also accepts a qualifying offer. The Mavericks will be in position to help facilitate trades and acquire assets throughout the season. They may also benefit next summer from Noel’s small cap hold, which is estimated at about $8MM. Noel finished just one start short of the cutoff for “starter criteria,” which is 41 starts or 2,000 minutes in the previous season. His qualifying offer would have been $5.85MM if he had met that standard.
  • The Grizzlies are willing to go above the $2.8MM qualifying offer to re-sign restricted free agent JaMychal Green, but won’t meet the price he wants, according to Chris Harrington of The Commercial Appeal. He adds that Tony Allen won’t be returning to Memphis, even after free agent addition Ben McLemore suffered a broken foot. Harrington thinks a return to Boston would be the best move for Allen.
  • Memphis still has one two-way contract remaining, and Harrington advocates giving it to someone with professional experience rather than an undrafted rookie. His choice is 23-year-old Vince Hunter, a 6’8″ power forward who played with the Grizzlies’ summer league team and has experience in the G League and overseas.
  • After re-signing with the Rockets this summer, veteran center Nene is eager to see new addition Chris Paul join James Harden in the backcourt, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype“It will be an unbelievable experience to play with James and Chris,” he said. “James is the best offensive player in the game and Chris is an amazing ball player as well. They can score from anywhere on the court and they both have a basketball IQ that’s off the charts.”

Nerlens Noel May Face Similar Market in 2018

Mavericks center Nerlens Noel will take his chances as an unrestricted free agent next summer after accepting the team’s $4.1 MM qualifying offer for this season. There were conflicting reports about whether Dallas ever offered a four-year deal in the $70MM range, but regardless, the third-year big man is committed to one more season with the Mavs for less than he made last year.

The lack of interest is partially the plight of being a restricted free agent, but ESPN’s Kevin Pelton [Insider account] isn’t sure Noel will get the max offer he wants in 2018.

There will be fewer teams with money to spend, as Pelton identifies just six franchises that appear to have the cap room to extend a max offer. One of those is the Lakers, who figure to have their eyes on bigger prizes than Noel. The Pacers with Myles Turner and the Jazz with Rudy Gobert won’t be spending money on another center, and the Sixers don’t figure to bring Noel back to town.

That leaves just the Hawks, who could have more than $30MM available if Dewayne Dedmon and Mike Muscala both turn down their player options, and the Bulls, who seem destined to have more than $40MM and might be ready for a new direction in the middle.

Pelton notes that it has been a particularly rough summer for free agent centers, with Pau Gasol getting the largest contract by re-signing with the Spurs for $49MM over three years. With many teams de-emphasizing the position and others already set, unrestricted free agency won’t gurantee Noel the payday he wants.

Nerlens Noel Signs Qualifying Offer, Returning to Mavs

Nerlens Noel has signed a one-year, $4.2MM qualifying offer to return to the Mavericks, Chris Haynes of ESPN tweets. Having failed to find a long-term off he liked in restricted free agency, the big man is now on track to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018.Nerlens Noel vertical

On Wednesday, it was reported that Noel turned down a Mavs offer in the range of $17.5MM per year. Haynes suggests that Noel’s reported $17MM+ offer was non-existent in any form, but Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets that, according to sources, the RFA did turn down a four-year, $70MM offer made on July 1. Tim McMahon of ESPN clarifies (link via Twitter) that Noel asked the Mavs for a max contract and then the four-year offer was pulled soon thereafter.

Noel appeared in 22 games for the Mavs after being traded from the 76ers, starting 12 of them and playing 22.0 MPG. In his three-season NBA career, the Kentucky product is averaging 10.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.6 SPG, and 1.5 BPG. Although he’s mainly known for his defensive prowess, Noel’s career FG% is 51.1%.

While Noel accepting a one-year deal worth $4.188MM is somewhat surprising, there simply weren’t many teams left with cap room this year that could have given him a realistic offer sheet — currently, no club has more cap room than the Sixers, who weren’t about to make a bid to bring back the former lottery pick.

Earlier this week, on August 21, Noel switched agents from Happy Walters to Rich Paul. Paul didn’t have much to do for Noel this summer, but he’ll be tasked with negotiating the young center’s next deal in 2018.

Noel will have more freedom when he reaches the open market next season, though he won’t necessarily be guaranteed a massive payday — cap space isn’t expected to be quite as abundant around the NBA in 2018 as it has been the last two summers.

Having accepted his qualifying offer, Noel now must consent to any trade if the Mavs look to deal him this year. If he agrees to be traded, he would surrender his Bird rights, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (link via Twitter).

With today’s signing, Noel becomes the first restricted free agent to sign a qualifying offer since 2015 when Norris Cole and Matthew Dellavedova both did so. Greg Monroe is the most notable restricted free agent to sign a qualifying offer in recent years, having done so in 2014. Four 2017 RFAs now remain unsigned: Mason Plumlee (Nuggets), Nikola Mirotic (Bulls), JaMychal Green (Grizzlies), and Alex Len (Suns).

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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