Let’s cut to the chase: Nerlens Noel is not injured and I will cling to this truth like it is one of the last lifeboats on the Titanic.
Just before the Mavs tipped off against the Celtics Wednesday night, the Mavs announced that Noel will undergo surgery on an injured left thumb and be out for several weeks.
This is the same Noel the Mavs had odd off-season negotiations with after calling him a “Tyson Chandler starter-kit”, was benched in training camp, got bounced from the rotation and got a hot dog during a game. It’s been a helluva eight months since he was traded to Dallas back in February.
Let’s review the facts.
The Noel “injury” was swept under the rug and never really mentioned by the Mavs
While everyone was taken aback by the news of Noel’s impending “surgery”, there was a good portion of Mavs fans (and even some Mavs media) that really didn’t know that Noel was that hurt or hurt at all. There’s a reason for that — the Mavs kept it quiet.
The first mention of the injury was back on Nov. 29 before the game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Curry, Finney-Smith, and McRoberts out tonight for Dallas. Noel (left thumb injury) is questionable.— Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla) November 29, 2017
Like the surgery news, it came out of left field. Rick Carlisle never mentioned it before and never really mentioned it to reporters afterward. After the Nets game, the box scores the Mavs printed out listed Noel as “DNP-CD” which either means his thumb “injury” wasn’t severe enough to keep him out of the lineup or he wasn’t injured because he’s not.
Carlisle never mentioned Noel as struggling with the injury or it being a reason he isn’t part of the rotation from the time it first popped up on the injury report till now. A couple days after the hot dog incident. The Mavs are pretty good about disclosing injuries when players are going to miss time. Hmmmmm.
Not once has Noel looked hampered or hindered by his “injury”
Since the announcement of his “injury”, Noel hasn’t said anything about it (till the announcement of surgery) nor has there been anything noticeable about him. He hasn’t sat out a practice and he never looked any different in layup lines or pregame warm ups. If Noel was hurt, he didn’t show it.
In the locker room, Noel seemed fine. He’s done a good job in being a good soldier and not giving the media any quotes to make what is a bad situation worse. He’s said the right things and never used the thumb “injury” as an excuse for his lack of playing time.
Hell, look at Noel shooting jumpers before the Boston game AFTER IT WAS ANNOUNCED HE WAS HAVING SURGERY.
Seth Curry has been in bubble wrap for two months and the Mavs head athletic trainer has filled the same role for the men’s basketball team in the Olympics but Noel is going to get some jumpers up after he said he needs to have surgery? Yeah, OK.
The Mavs have done this before
This is just an attempt to cool the situation before Noel moves on
Ever since the Mavericks and Noel played chicken over the summer and Noel called their bluff by signing the qualifying offer, this was going to happen. As soon as Noel’s ink dried on that qualifying offer, he might as well have been signing a deal with another team. He was as good as gone.
The Mavericks trying to act like this entire situation was somehow salvageable despite doing literally everything possible to drive Noel away was like watching a high school boy sitting on the couch with his girlfriend watching a movie and pretending no funny business was going on whenever a parent would walk by.
Of course, Noel didn’t really do anything to make the situation better and his final moments of court time were aloof, distant and not really memorable.
But the negative headlines are starting to pile up. It’s obvious the Mavs are done with Noel and he is done with them. What’s the point in letting Noel sit on the bench with potential for drama? Noel has said the right things, but what if that changes? Instead the Mavs can ship him off for a month while they work out his next destination. It’s fishy that the Mavs have decided Noel needs surgery a week before he’s eligible to be traded (Dec. 15). Plenty of time for the Mavericks to quietly work out a deal.
To rest my case, here’s the final piece of damning evidence:
Noel will go to Cleveland for the procedure. He's been listed as questionable on the team's pregame injury report for a while now.— Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla) December 6, 2017
Ah yes, Cleveland. Well-known for its world-renowned hand surgeons. Never mind the fact that apparently there actually is a world-renowned hand surgeon based in Cleveland. Thomas Graham? Sounds generic. Probably a Russian spy. FAKE NEWS.
If this so-called Graham does exist, it’s awfully convenient he’s located in Cleveland. Where LeBron James plays. Who plays on a team that is awfully needy for a rim-protector and also shares an agent with Noel. I know what’s going on here. This goes all the way up to the top! You can’t spread your lies past me. I bet Noel and LeBron are practicing pick and rolls right now.
There are certain things sports fans will always believe. Mavs fans and Kings fans will always think the 2006 and 2002 playoffs were rigged, respectively. Some think Michael Jordan’s first retirement was actually a secret suspension for gambling. The power outage during the Super Bowl was no accident. The 1920 White Sox fixed the World Series. Everyone has their sports conspiracy they cling to.
This one is mine. Nerlens Noel is not injured. Wake up, America.