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Signing Jeff Withey has nothing to do with Nerlens Noel

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The Mavericks didn’t sign Jeff Withey as some kind of Noel back-up plan—just as a back-up.  

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

All summer, almost immediately after another deal is done, the mentions of every media member connected to the Mavericks floods with questions of Nerlens Noel’s status.

“When is Nerlens going to sign?”

“Why hasn’t Nerlens signed?”

“What does this mean for Nerlens?”

From P.J. Dozier to now Jeff Withey, apparently everything has something to do with why Noel hasn’t signed yet. The problem with that logic is that not every move an NBA team makes is consequential to something else on the roster.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences to adding a player though. Noel and Whitey play the same position, so obviously one’s playing time will affect another. But the Mavericks didn’t sign Jeff Withey as some kind of Noel back-up plan—just as a back-up.

Just look at the timelines of these two players. Withey is a 27-year-old player going into his 5th year in the NBA and just eclipsed 2000 minutes. Noel is a 23-year-old player going into his 5th year in the NBA who has played well over 5000 minutes. Not only do the numbers not add up, but glaringly so.

When the signing of Jeff Withey was first reported, did Noel’s agent call Noel with a sense of urgency? Did they even talk at all? When Nerlens saw Shams Chariana or MacMahon’s tweet when scrolling through his feed did he stop for a second and reconsider the offer already on the table?

If the Mavericks did intend to sign a player to push Noel into signing or attempt to replace him and the Noel doesn’t feel threatened then what was the point of the signing?

On The Woj Pod, the other day Houston Rockets GMs Daryl Morey was talking about the trade for Chris Paul when Adrian Wojnarowski asked about the Rockets self-imposed early deadlines. Morey explained that the Rockets try to do things a week or two before an actual deadline to have more flexibility going into a real deadline. Then he remarked on how the rest of the NBA approaches deadlines.

“Honestly in the NBA it’s frustrating at times, nothing happens without a deadline. If you don’t have a deadline everyone waits. You need a trade deadline, you need the draft day, you need something or otherwise everyone just says, you know, f—you we’re just gonna wait and it frustrates me and other GMs at times because we’re obviously willing to move early, but I’d say unless there’s a deadline nothing happens.”

Nothing. Happens. This is where we are with Nerlens Noel. A stalemate, a standoff, and a situation where both sides have stated their case to an uninspired audience. And now, the only deadline in sight is training camp in late September.

The point of the Jeff Withey signing was to acquire a nice backup to compete against Salah Mejri and Dwight Powell for second team center minutes. If it had anything to do with Noel, then it was a poor attempt.