Nerlens Noel isn’t happy in Philadelphia.
It’s hard to say this was a surprise. The Sixers have a jam in the front court with Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Noel. One was bound to be the odd man out, and Noel was already behind after undergoing knee surgery in October.
Now, the Sixers have to decide what they want to do. The problem for them is Noel’s value is low. Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast that interested teams don’t like what they are hearing about Noel and that no one is willing to give up a lot.
Noel could be there for the taking, which begs two natural questions: should the Dallas Mavericks be interested and can they make a deal happen?
The answer to the first question is an unequivocal yes. Dallas is a rebuilding team that is in desperate need of young talent. Noel may have an injury history and attitude issues, but he fits the bill of young talent. The Mavs are in no position to not even consider it.
He also fits with what Dallas does on the court. Noel is limited offensively, but is a strong rim-roller and rebounder. When healthy, he’s an athletic defensive anchor and shot-blocker. He played in and started 62 games last season, putting up 11.1 points, 8.1 boards and 1.5 blocks. That’s the outline of a pretty good NBA center right there. If Noel becomes someone like Tyson Chandler, it would be the perfect fit.
So, Noel makes sense, but does Dallas have what it would take to make this trade happen? Another yes!
It’s pretty easy to make a deal with the Sixers because they still have tons of cap space. Philly could theoretically absorb one of the Mavs’ big contracts in a deal, making it a lot easier to trade. So, what would Philly want?
Typically to get a young player, you have to give one up in return. I would assume that the Sixers would at least ask about Justin Anderson and push for him to be included in any potential deal. Everyone was high on Anderson coming into this season, but he’s underwhelmed and hasn’t taken the leap expected after a strong finish in 2016.
Undrafted rookie Dorian Finney-Smith has jumped Anderson in the Mavs’ rotation and is starting with Dirk Nowitzki dealing with that pesky Achilles injury. The Mavs might be more willing to part with Anderson if they get a young player in return, but I don’t think it’d be easy for them.
Perhaps the Sixers want a veteran presence like Matthews around their young core. Maybe Noel didn’t make sense as a third banana in the Sixers frontcourt rotation, but maybe someone like Dwight Powell or Salah Mejri does. The point is, the Mavs have what it takes to pull a trade like this off. Plus, if Noel’s value really is down, it’s something they can make work possibly without giving up much.
Noel doesn’t really move the needle for the Mavericks this season, and won’t get them anywhere near the playoffs. If he’s healthy, he probably makes them a little better and it probably means they’ll move Andrew Bogut.
But, Noel, if healthy, is a good starting center next to Harrison Barnes. Add a nice, high draft pick and you have some young talent to start building on.