Nerlens Noel is a very unorthodox basketball player. He is 6 11, can leap out of the gym, specializes on the defensive end which makes up for his lack of a jumper and offense (unless it’s a putback situation). Noel was traded right at the deadline this past February from the 76ers to the Dallas Mavericks in turn for two second round picks and Justin Anderson. Throughout his three year career, he has averaged 10 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks and despite his scoring dropping over the last three seasons, his field goal percentage has increased.
Noel was traded in his final year of his rookie contract, giving him a restricted free agent tag for this 2017 offseason. That meant that the Mavericks could match any offer sheet that another team would offer him and keep him for that price. The consensus around the league by the time the 2016-2017 season ended was that the Mavs would offer him a near-max deal (4 years at approx. 22-24 mil per year) to keep him around. Well, that hasn’t happened. In fact, he hasn’t even received an offer sheet.
With this offseason being a high-spending one, Noel has not been able to cash in as he is still a free agent as we head into August. Supposedly, Noel’s camp has been frustrated with the Mavs management with his agent, Happy Walters saying, “We’re very disappointed with where things stand. Nerlens loves Dallas and spent June working out, but we’re still waiting on a serious offer”.
The other organizations must think that if a rebuilding team like the Nets or Bulls offer Nerlens a short-term contract at a little higher money (say like a 2 year/42 million), that the Mavericks would no doubt match, creating no point in them even reaching out. Nerlens does have a qualifying offer on the table from the Mavs being a restricted agent, a one year deal at $5.8 million and then would be an unrestricted free agent after that in the lucrative 2018 offseason.
Nerlens posted an Instagram last week with the hashtag “#IdBetOnMyself”, making Dallas fans think that he is strongly considering the qualifying offer. Or…he’s betting on himself and his camp to play hardball with the Mavs, going for that long term deal that he feels that he deserves. Still, as we approach August and Nerlens is the best free agent left on the market, and the money is quickly drying up, the power forward might need to temper his expectations and prove himself in the 2017-2018 season.