Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel Hires Rich Paul As His Agent

AUGUST 21, 7:24pm: Noel has hired Rich Paul of Klutch Sports as his agent, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders tweets. Paul is the agent for LeBron James and John Wall, among many other NBA players.

AUGUST 21, 9:11am: According to Mike Fisher of Scout.com (Twitter link), Noel is considering an agent change from Walters, despite hiring him just a few months ago. However, Fegan is not involved in this process — if Noel makes a change, he’s expected to look elsewhere.

AUGUST 20, 8:41pm: Scruggs’ report appears to be operating off of dated information, as Noel’s agency change occurred during the 2016/17 season. Initially reported to be leaning toward Fegan, Noel went in another direction, as Fegan was fired by his agency and became embroiled in legal drama. Noel – previously with Andy Miller at ASM – is currently represented by Happy Walters, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks confirms to Hoops Rumors.

AUGUST 20, 4:57pm: Nerlens Noel, who remains a restricted free agent, is still searching for a max contract on the market. In an effort to find that deal, he has switched agents, leaving ASM Sports and hiring Dan Fegan, according to Newy Scruggs of NBC.com.

Noel hasn’t received an offer from any rival suitor, Scruggs adds, which prompted the change. Should he still not find a long-term deal to his liking, he has the option to play for Dallas under his qualifying offer, which is worth $4,187,598.

Scruggs pegs Noel’s market value in the $12-13MM range, though it’s merely speculation. The scribe cites Noel’s injury history as a major reason why the big man will likely have to settle for less than the max.

The center has played 193 games since being selected with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 draft. He’s scored 10.0 rebounds and brought in 7.5 rebounds per game over his career while making 51.1% of his shots from the field.

What’s Next For Unsigned Restricted Free Agents?

An unusually high number of notable restricted free agents remain unsigned as August nears its halfway point, and the rumor mill has been quiet on those players as of late. After the league-wide free agent spending spree in the summer of 2016, many of these RFAs likely entered free agency this year anticipating huge paydays, and were disappointed to see many potential suitors use up their cap room quickly.

Here’s the current list of restricted free agents still on the board:Nikola Mirotic vertical

The updates on those players have been few and far between over the last month or so. Early in free agency, Green’s agent seemed pessimistic about his client remaining in Memphis, suggesting that the Grizzlies seemed to be going in a “different direction.” However, with no offer sheet yet in hand, Green still looks like a decent bet to stay with his current team.

Plumlee, meanwhile, may not have as clear as role as the Nuggets initially envisioned when they acquired him, since the team nabbed Paul Millsap in free agency. Denver gave up a lot in the trade for Plumlee and presumably still wants to bring him back as Nikola Jokic‘s backup at center. But with Millsap making approximately $30MM annually and Jokic due for a mega-deal of his own as soon as next summer, the Nuggets may be reluctant to invest heavily in Plumlee as well.

As for Len, Mirotic, and Noel, there has been little indication that they’re going anywhere — all three of their respective teams still have a ton of cap flexibility, and could comfortably match virtually any offer sheet they’re dealt. Those offer sheets just don’t seem to be out there right now, since almost every team with the ability to make a big offer has its own RFA to worry about.

Besides Phoenix, Chicago, and Dallas, there are a small number of teams that could make an aggressive offer for a restricted free agent. The Sixers are really the only other club with a significant amount of leftover cap room, and based on their one-year agreements with J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson, it appears Bryan Colangelo and company want to avoid multiyear commitments that would compromise their 2018 cap space.

So what’s next for these restricted free agents? October 1 is the next key date to watch. That’s the day that each RFA’s qualifying offer will expire. Up until that point, any of those five players could accept the qualifying offer and play on a one-year deal, opting to try his luck at the open market again in 2018 as an unrestricted free agent. Green, Len, Mirotic, Noel, and Plumlee all figure to still be looking for longer-term deals, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see one or two of them signs that QO.

If an RFA situation remains unresolved beyond October 1, the player is still restricted, but no longer has the option of accepting his qualifying offer. With the regular season fast approaching at that point, players don’t have much leverage, and a situation can go south in a hurry.

A year ago, it was December before Donatas Motiejunas finally found an offer sheet, but that lucrative four-year deal with the Nets fell through after Houston matched it — the Rockets and Motiejunas couldn’t agree on incentive details, the forward skipped his physical, and the two sides eventually parted ways. Motiejunas, who later signed for the minimum and is now out of the NBA, could act as a cautionary tale this fall for RFAs who don’t yet have a deal when training camps begin.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Rumors: Reed, Cousins, Pelicans, Noel

The arraignment hearing for Clippers center Willie Reed has been set for Sept. 8, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sen Sentinel tweets. Reed was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery over the weekend in Florida and booked in Miami-Dade County. Reed, who played for the Heat last season, signed a one-year, $1.5MM contract with the Clippers last week.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins has expressed on his Twitter feed that he wants the team to trade for Carmelo Anthony, Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype notes. They are teammates on Team USA and Cousins has previously stated his admiraion for the aging Knicks forward. Anthony would have to waive his no-trade clause to join Cousins in New Orleans and the Knicks would either have to agree to a package of role players or get a third team involved to make that happen.
  • Jalen Jones two-way contract with the Pelicans is a two-year deal, a league source informed Chris Reichert of The Step Back (Twitter link). The former Texas A&M forward went undrafted in 2016 and played for the Celtics’ G League’s affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, where he averaged 21.0 PPG and 9.0 RPG. Jones impressed the Pelicans while playing for their summer league team, posting averages of 13.3 PPG and 6.2 RPG in six games.
  • Dirk Nowitzki is hopeful that the Mavericks can eventually come to terms with restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, whose contract situation has yet to be resolved. “He’s so young and so athletic. I’d love to keep him,” Nowitzki told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “I’m sure that is what the Mavs are thinking. … We obviously traded for him last year with the hope he will stay with this franchise for a long time. … I’m sure [Mavericks owner] Mark [Cuban] and [GM] Donnie [Nelson], the leaders of the franchise, are trying to play the right business move.”

Nets Notes: Culture, Marks, Tanking, Noel

In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Zach Lowe takes an in-depth look at the culture Sean Marks has created in Brooklyn since he was hired as the Nets’ general manager.

As Lowe details, the Nets were leaning toward hiring Bryan Colangelo as their GM over Marks back in February 2016, but team chairman Dmitry Razumov heard from several respected execs who praised Marks during that All-Star weekend, and had a long talk with Spurs GM R.C. Buford that helped convince the franchise Marks was the man for the job.

Since joining the Nets, Marks has attempted to turn the club into one players want to be a part of, creating a “serious but welcoming” atmosphere, as well as a sense of closeness and community within the organization. The club has also prioritized sports science treatment, keeping its players on minutes restrictions and having them fill out daily questionnaires about sleep, soreness, and diet. “I could play another five years doing what they do,” said Randy Foye, who spent 2016/17 with the Nets.

Lowe’s entire piece on the Nets is worth the read, particularly for more of those tidbits on the work that Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson have done to overhaul the team’s culture. Here are a few of the highlights from the story:

  • Razumov says team ownership is “ready to be patient” and would be fine with a 25-win season in 2017/18 if the Nets’ young players continue to develop and take positive steps forward.
  • The Nets will finally control their first-round pick again in 2019, and there has been talk within the franchise of tanking in 2018/19 in order to create an opportunity to draft a blue-chip prospect. Although Atkinson acknowledges that there’s  “faction” of people within the organization who believe that’s the way to go, it’s not the plan right now. “I don’t think it is in the cards to tank,” Marks said, per Lowe. “The goal is to compete and win games.”
  • The Nets hope their young core – which remains a work in progress – will help the team recruit veteran free agents, like the Sixers were able to do this summer. “We hope free agents say, ‘We want to play with those young bucks,'” Marks said.
  • The Sixers and Nets had brief trade discussions involving Nerlens Noel last season, but Brooklyn had no interest in giving up much for a player the team could pursue in free agency, sources tell Lowe. Noel currently remains a restricted free agent, though the Nets no longer have the cap room necessary to pursue him.
  • Despite recent rumors about Mikhail Prokhorov considering selling a controlling interest in the Nets, he continues to market only a minority stake in the team, according to Razumov.
  • According to Lowe, the NBA has talked about the possibility of banning the ability to swap picks in between drafts in which a team owes its picks to another team. That possibility hasn’t been discussed at length yet, but such a rule would have prevented the Nets from including a 2017 pick-swap in their deal with the Celtics when Boston was already receiving Brooklyn’s 2016 and 2018 first-rounders.

Agent: Noel ‘Very Disappointed’ With Mavericks Negotiations

Nerlens Noel and the Mavericks remain far apart in contract negotiations, reports Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. The 23-year-old big man is a restricted free agent, and as such, the Mavs can match any offer another team might tender for Noel’s services.

“We’re very disappointed with where things stand. Nerlens loves Dallas and spent June there working out, but we’re still waiting on a serious offer,” said Happy Walters, Noel’s agent.

For his part, Mavs owner Mark Cuban is unwilling to provide any details about the negotiations.

Sefko points out that 13 Mavericks currently have guaranteed contracts, meaning that only two roster spots remain. After the 76ers traded Noel to the Mavs in late February, he played 22 games, averaging 8.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 22.0 MPG, shooting a strong 57.5% from the floor. Noel, known for his defense, also posted 1.1 BPG and 1.0 SPG. Down the stretch, Noel’s minutes were lowered, so that the Mavs could get a look at up-and-coming players, as well as keep their win total down.

According to Sefko, Noel has limited options. He could accept whatever the Mavericks offer, despite these numbers not being to Noel’s liking. Noel could also sign the Mavs’ qualifying offer, which is about $6MM, and will remain on the table until October 16. Finally, the big man could sign an offer sheet with another team that has sufficient salary cap space.

Since none of these possibilities appear imminent, Sefko concludes that a continuation of the standoff between Noel and the Mavs is very likely. The stalemate could last well into the summer.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Zagorac, Noel, Smith Jr.

Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations Mickey Loomis says the team is “due” for success and Rajon Rondo will provide veteran leadership, as he told New Orleans Times-Picayune columnists Jeff Duncan and Larry Holder during a radio interview. Loomis affirmed that the team was at a crossroads in terms of its development after trading for DeMarcus Cousins last season, retaining free agent point guard Jrue Holiday and reaching an agreement with Rondo. “I think we’re due and it’s time to have some success,” he said in the interview. “I think we’re all expecting that.” Though Rondo has yet to officially signed with New Orleans, Loomis said Rondo’s experience made him a good fit. “We’re talking about a veteran player that has some leadership qualities that’s been on winning teams, that understands how to win in the NBA,” Loomis said.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Rade Zagorac‘s contract with the Grizzlies is a three-year, $3.9MM deal, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The first two years and $2.3MM is guaranteed, he adds. Zagorac, the 35th overall selection in the 2016 draft, played overseas last season. The swingman was the leading scorer for KK Mega Leks in Serbia in 2016/17.
  • The Mavs will continue to play hardball with restricted free agent Nerlens Noel now that his other options have fallen by the wayside, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News opines. Noel is one of the few high-level free agents who hasn’t already signed a contract this month. Sefko doubts that Noel will take the qualifying offer of $4,187,598 and become an unrestricted free agent next summer, speculating that the two parties will eventually come to an agreement.
  • Mavs first-rounder Dennis Smith Jr.has made a strong impression on some scouts with his summer-league performances, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. The point guard averaged 16.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 3.8 APG in his first five summer-league outings.  “(Smith Jr.) has a solid feel as a young point guard,” one scout told Wasserman. Wasserman quotes eight scouts, who break down the pros and cons of Smith Jr.’s game.

RFA Rumors: Mirotic, Noel, Simmons, Green

A handful of restricted free agents have made out well so far this year on the open market. Tony Snell, Joe Ingles, Cristiano Felicio, and Andre Roberson got lucrative new multiyear deals from their respective clubs, and Otto Porter reportedly has a maximum salary offer sheet in place with the Nets, though the Wizards have yet to receive it.

Still, there are a number of RFAs still on the market as league-wide cap room begins to dwindle. Sean Deveney of The Sporting News takes a closer look at six big-name RFA still seeking a new contract, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Prior to free agency, rival executives estimated that Nikola Mirotic would seek something in the range of $20MM annually. However, the Bulls‘ power forward may have to settle for something closer to $12MM per year, according to Deveney, who notes that team owner Jerry Reinsdorf has played “hardball” in these situations in the past.
  • Deveney predicts that the Mavericks and Nerlens Noel will eventually negotiate a deal in the four-year, $85MM range.
  • The Spurs are expected to match reasonable offers for Jonathon Simmons, which could mean something in the range of $30MM over three years, per Deveney. The Kings and Knicks have expressed interest in Simmons.
  • Grizzlies RFA JaMychal Green has drawn some interest from the Bulls and he may be a backup plan for the Spurs depending on what happens with Simmons, says Deveney, adding that Memphis still wants to retain Green.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic‘s price tag is “quickly dropping,” according to Deveney. The Wizards RFA was believed to be seeking something in the range of $50MM over three years, but that doesn’t seem realistic at this point. The Kings may be Bogdanovic’s best bet if they don’t land another small forward, writes Deveney.

Hawks Show Interest In Nerlens Noel

The Hawks have displayed interest in restricted free agent big man Nerlens Noel, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Having extended Noel a qualifying offer last month, the Mavs have the ability to match any offer sheet he signs.

Having traded Dwight Howard and let Paul Millsap walk in free agency, the Hawks have some flexibility to make a play for one of the bigger names in the free agent market, and a hole in their frontcourt, so it’s possible they’re zeroing in on Noel as one of their top targets.

[RELATED: Top NBA Free Agents Still Available]

However, with Jamal Crawford‘s contract coming in as a result of a trade with the Clippers and Tim Hardaway‘s RFA cap hold still on their books, the Hawks don’t currently have the flexibility to make an offer sheet that would really test the Mavericks’ willingness to match. That could change if Atlanta renounces Hardaway, buys out or trades Crawford, or makes another deal, but Dallas seems very interested in bringing back Noel. The Mavs talked to Noel earlier this week, but are willing to let him go out and get an offer sheet rather than negotiating a deal with him directly.

Noel missed the start of last season after undergoing a procedure on his knee. That injury limited him to 51 games for the season, and even once he was traded from the Sixers to the Mavericks, he didn’t a play a whole lot — after averaging 30.1 minutes per game in his first two full NBA seasons, Noel played just 20.5 MPG last year.

While an overcrowded center situation in Philadelphia didn’t really give Noel a chance to show what he could do in 2016/17, his 2015/16 numbers (11.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 1.5 BPG) reflected his ability to be a defensive difference-maker.

Free Agent Rumors: Tucker, Hayward, Young, Reed

The Raptors will lose P.J. Tucker in free agency, with the veteran forward having agreed to a four-year, $32MM contract with Houston. However, it won’t be for lack of trying. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (via Twitter), Toronto offered $33MM over three years for Tucker, whose Rockets deal is partially guaranteed in year four. New Rockets point guard Chris Paul played a major role in recruiting Tucker to Houston though, per Windhorst. The lack of income tax in Texas likely helped sway the 32-year-old as well, though that’s my speculation.

Here are a few more free agent notes from Saturday that we don’t want to let slip through the cracks:

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald provides some details on the Heat‘s Saturday meeting with Gordon Hayward, which five Miami players attended. Interestingly, free agent forward James Johnson was one of those five players. Meanwhile, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe writes that Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford will attend the Celtics‘ Sunday meeting with Hayward.
  • We can add the Warriors and the Thunder to the list of teams that have conveyed interest in Nick Young, reports Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. The Pelicans are also said to be eyeing the veteran free agent, who intends to meet with “a bunch of teams.” Medina adds that the Lakers reached out to Young’s reps, but there likely won’t be a fit there.
  • The Pacers, Sixers, and Rockets expressed interest in free agent big man Willie Reed on Saturday, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), who notes that the Heat also remain interested in re-signing Reed.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said his team had a “great call” with Nerlens Noel on Saturday, and that the free agent center is “excited to continue to play with the Mavs,” per Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. However, the Mavs will be patient and allow Noel and his agent to explore the market, knowing they’ll be able to match any offer he gets.
  • It sounds like Knicks GM Steve Mills will continue to run the team’s front office through the free agency period, in the wake of Phil Jackson‘s departure. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN (Twitter link), David Griffin had an initial phone interview with the franchise this week, but isn’t expected to interview in person for a few weeks, which suggests the process won’t be rushed.

Free Agent Rumors: Iguodala, Noel, Roberson, Ingles

The Heat are one of three teams scheduled to meet with free agent Gordon Hayward, which could put several free agency plans on hold. For Miami free agent James Johnson, being patient is not a problem, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes.

“I’m a patient guy,” Johnson said to Jackson at a recent golf tournament. “They can take as long as they want. My mindset is winning. I think Hayward can help us win and I’m all for it. They brought me here for a reason and I know they’re going after Hayward for a reason and I think his statistics and his numbers that he [produces], he fits in the best here.”

Johnson, 30, developed into a solid two-way player last season, averaging 12.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and shot nearly 48% from the floor. However, if Miami does lure Hayward to South Beach, retaining both Johnson and Dion Waiters would be problematic from a financial standpoint. Stretching Josh McRoberts‘ salary and several other moves would have to be made to re-sign both players. However, Johnson has reiterated he does not mind waiting to see how the Heat’s plan develop.

Here are some other free agency rumors circulating around the NBA:

  • The Rockets‘ meeting with two-time NBA champion and free agent Andre Iguodala is scheduled for this morning, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN (via Twitter).
  • In a separate tweet, Haynes reports that the Knicks and Bucks have inquired on free agent swingman Ben McLemore.
  • Restricted free agent Nerlens Noel can speak to other teams, but appears very likely to remain in Dallas. It’s likely a matter of “how much and when” the Mavericks get a deal done with the swingman, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (via Twitter).
  • With Paul George headed to Oklahoma City, the Thunder are more likely to retain restricted free agent Andre Roberson, according to ESPN’s Royce Young (via Twitter).
  • The Nets have secured a meeting with free agent Joe Ingles, sources tell Adam Joseph of 16WingsARing (via Twitter).
  • We heard on Friday night that the Cavaliers have interest in Zach Randolph. That interest is mutual, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
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