The Nerlens Noel situation isn’t especially weird — it’s just annoying. Restricted free agency can be a mess and it’s not unheard of for role players who want to be paid like stars to sit out and put pressure on their owners to pay up.
Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith have done it recently, and unfortunately they’re both represented by Noel’s newest agent, Rich Paul. Luckily for the Mavericks, Noel is not LeBron James’ teammate (Paul famously represents LeBron) so there won’t be as much pressure to get an extravagant deal done.
Unfortunately, trying as hard as you can to ignore the Noel situation and what type of doom and gloom it could bring the Mavericks franchise has become impossible.
Noel’s been on the spot since free agency started, since the Mavs clearly laid out their intent to sign him. Now we get this: Noel is allegedly turning down some hefty change.
Noel turned down a deal in the $17.5m per year range. Not sure changing agents changes the math on him. 10pts 7.5rebs as a career https://t.co/Q6gOCRJYwz— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) August 23, 2017
Who knows how reliable the information is — while Basketball Insiders is a reputable site, we don’t know the intentions were of whoever leaked this bit of info out there. Maybe it’s the Mavericks trying to make Noel look bad and guilt him into agreeing to a deal. Maybe it’s an agent for a rival player trying to make Noel look toxic to help his own client look better to general managers. And hell, maybe it’s the truth. We don’t know.
The bad part regardless is now the Noel situation is officially a Thing™. This tweet has picked up storm around the NBA web and even players are shockingly offering their unfiltered opinion.
My guy needs better friends and advisors in his circle https://t.co/YI6Zwko6Dd— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) August 24, 2017
Here’s a followup response from the Nuggets’ Wilson Chandler (apologies for the NSFW language):
Fuck that. Common sense. Smh— Wilson Chandler (@wilsonchandler) August 24, 2017
This is sort of unprecedented — it’s extremely rare for NBA players to call out contract negotiations like this. Players have a bond and it’s usually “hey let’s all get paid as much as we can.” That’s pretty much the tagline of the players association. For Noel’s peers to be publicly calling him out like this sure is, well, it’s something.
It can just never be easy for the Mavericks. While all signs are pointing to Noel being at fault for not recognizing his market value after no team gave him an offer sheet this summer, we don’t know when this supposed $17.5 million per year deal was offered and if it’s still on the table. Maybe the Mavericks gave Noel that number on July 1, when Noel still had dreams of max dollars dancing through his head.
Or maybe Noel is a 23-year-old athlete who doesn’t understand economics. It’s anyone’s guess, but the only thing that’s clear at this point is the situation is only going to get worse before it gets better.
At this point the chances of Noel entering training camp with a deal are probably 50/50 at best and to be honest, it’s likely lower than that. Once training camp starts and the NBA media wheel spins up again, it’ll be the main story everyday until there’s a resolution. It just needs to get done.
Anything that prevents Noel from being a Maverick for the next four years will be a colossal failure on both sides — on the Mavericks for not closing on a 23-year-old core centerpiece and on Noel for foolishly throwing away secure dollars and misreading the market.