We posed this question on our Twitter on Wednesday. It's a totally hypothetical trade with no inside knowledge that it could happen, or even that the 76ers would be willing to make that trade. It's a simple debate: would you do it?
totally hypothetical, but would you trade Seth Curry for Nerlens Noel right now?— yogi fan account (@mavsmoneyball) February 1, 2017
We know Noel is likely available through the trade market, and that the Mavericks should certainly be interested. Here's a case for each side.
TIM CATO: Yes
I want to start this by saying that, yo, Seth Curry's really dang good. Where’d this come from!? I always had high hopes for the sweet-shooting off guard who is somehow only the fourth most famous member of the Curry family. (That would be Steph, Dell and Riley. Maybe even Ayesha!) But he’s been even better than I expected.
There's a future for him in Dallas. His contract is one of the best in the league, arguably better than anyone not on a rookie deal and not named Isaiah Thomas. Two years at $6 million? That was robbery by the Mavericks' front office this offseason. With a draft full of taller point guards -- Dennis Smith at 6'3 is the smallest of the five point guard prospects, and he's also the most athletic -- Curry could make a lot of sense starting at the two next year and maybe beyond with a taller point guard playing big minutes next to him.
Given a chance to trade him for Nerlens Noel, however, and there's no choice. You have to do it. That’s just business in the NBA.
I'll be clear again that I have no information that this trade has ever even occurred to the Mavericks. But what Noel has the potential to be, still just 22 years old, is so hard to find. He's an athletic 6'11 anomaly who is already a top-tier defender, with a very real chance to develop into a Defensive Player of the Year. He's having his best offensive season this year and he hits free throws. He could be at least Tyson Chandler in Dallas for a decade.
It's easy to overvalue your favorite team's players while undervaluing ones you never watch, especially ones in an entirely different conference. Curry is a deadeye shooter who should have a 10-year career, but he'll never be anything more than the fourth or fifth best player on a team. It's amazing the Mavericks found that unwanted in free agency, sure. It doesn't mean they can say no if the 76ers were willing to offer them a potential defensive centerpiece.
I'll say this: I hadn't seriously expected the Mavericks to have a chance at Noel until watching Curry blossom. He's by far the team's most valuable trade chip, even if Andrew Bogut or Deron Williams are more likely to be dealt. The 76ers would be out of their minds to not trade Noel only to let him walk in free agency, and maybe, without Sam Hinkie's guidance in the front office, they're gun shy enough to make that happen. I wouldn't count on it. If the Mavericks want a real chance a Noel, you can't wait until free agency rolls around.
(As a side note, why are you so sure he'd come here in free agency. It's a slightly different situation, but have the past five years taught us nothing!?)
If I'm the Mavericks, I want some firm information about his injury history and off-the-court problems. That could potentially sway me away from this trade. But as long as that checks out, and it would as far as I know, then you'd have to make that trade if Philadelphia was willing. Curry, good as he will be, is replaceable. Good luck finding a Noel unwanted on the free agency market, though.
And hey, remember this is hypothetical, because I don’t think there’s a chance in hell the 76ers would do this trade. This is more of a fun look at talent evaluation and a way to see what Mavericks fans really think of our new favorite Curry than anything else, for me.
CARSON LaCAVA: No
As much as I love athletic bigs who can protect the rim and hit free throws, Curry is the kind of guy you don’t just get rid of. Noel is a super talented and young guy with truckloads of potential, certainly a step above any big we have on the roster, but Curry is just hitting his stride.
As pointed out, Curry is on one of the best deals in the NBA, and you need productive players on good (aka “cheap”) contracts to build a team that has depth. Plus, there’s always the off chance that Seth Curry could start to look a little more like his big brother. OK, don’t get me wrong, Seth will never be the second coming of Steph, but that quick release and seemingly limitless range are just damn fun to watch. Not to mention a pretty effective way to put up points in a hurry and create a gravitational force that opens things up for your teammates.
Without Curry, the guard rotation is down to Devin Harris, Deron Williams, Yogi Ferrell and J.J. Barea. With Williams, Barea and Harris all well past their prime and injury prone, and Yogi being an unproven 10-day contract player, the team often lacks consistent playmakers.
The younger Curry brother is certainly no true point guard, and hasn’t shown a great proficiency for creating looks for his teammates, but he does earn a certain amount of attention as a three-point threat and P&R ball handler.
Defensively, Curry leads the team in steals and is second in deflections. He’s great in the passing lanes and has quick hands, which make him a pest for opposing guards. Don’t take my word for it — Rick Carlisle calls him one of the team’s top defenders, too. This is something that Dallas desperately needs. Just take a moment and think about the last time we had a really good defensive combo guard who could also score in bunches, shoot from the parking lot and set up his teammates from time to time. Nobody comes to mind in recent years. Delonte West? Raymond Felton? I don’t think so.
I have loved Nerlens Noel since his college days at Kentucky when he absolutely obliterated every shot that was ever taken in any game he played in. (Seriously I don’t think anyone scored on him in college.) But in my eyes, Curry makes the most sense for this team. He compliments Dirk and Barnes's offensive games well, and the Mavericks should hold onto him.