It’s been almost a week since the news of Nerlens Noel signing the 1-year qualifying offer broke, and everybody has had time to get their takes in.
There’s plenty of discussion here at Mavs Moneyball. We’ve talked about the Mavs’ need to rely on their veterans now more than ever, a breakdown of how we got here with Noel and of course, a spicy take from yours truly on how everything is awful and nothing good happens in life anymore.
But the Noel news was a big deal, both because Noel is a really good and interesting player and because a restricted free agent signing the qualifying offer is a pretty rare occurrence. It just doesn’t happen that often. So with that, here’s a sampling of reaction to the Noel news around the league.
One of my kindred spirits and jilted lovers Andrew Tobolowsky goes in deep on the Mavericks’ constant inability to keep good players on their roster under the guide of being the “cleverest” team in the NBA.
Instead, once again, refusing to understand that good basketball players are extremely valuable commodities who almost always have good options, they asked Noel to call their bluff. He did, and did the one thing that evaporated literally all of their bargaining power. By signing the qualifying offer, Noel insured he’d be underpaid this year but an unrestricted free agent next year. The Mavs will still be able to offer him a little more money, but if he plays well at all he’ll be able to go to any team in the league prepared to express their appreciation for him, rather than holding him up to ridicule. And, obviously, he’ll remember this offseason when making his choices. So, in other words, the odds the Mavs get one deeply discounted year from a guy with huge potential this year when it doesn’t matter, and next year are utterly irrelevant, no matter how good Dennis Smith Jr. is, just went way, way up.
It’s obvious that I agree. You should read the rest of the piece for more reasoning about why what the Mavericks are doing in regards to free agency isn’t working.
The Ringer: How did Nerlens Noel end up here?
Over at our now sister site at The Ringer, Haley O’Shaughnessy goes over the messy situation Noel and the Mavericks now find themselves in.
For Noel, there was $100 million less on the table—technically an easier figure to walk away from, but still one he could regret leaving. Noel, who was highly recruited, went to an NBA factory for college, and was drafted sixth overall despite a scary knee injury, can now power up the ol’ chip on his shoulder for the first time in his career. He could have a stellar 2017-18 season for the modern big man, and if that’s the case, Dallas can only hope Noel doesn’t begrudgingly remember that the franchise didn’t consider him worth a max deal, no matter how risky it might have felt this summer. Worth exists in betting on a player before his peak, as Utah, who didn’t offer restricted free agent Gordon Hayward a maximum extension in 2014 until forced to, will regrettingly tell you. Over in Minnesota, Tom Thibodeau is taking that gamble (or trying to, at least) on Andrew Wiggins’s potential by offering him a max extension as soon as possible.
Regardless of how good you think Noel is, this entire situation blows, and it isn’t good for either side. The Mavericks are now almost surely going to lose a really good young piece (the history of restricted free agents signing the qualifying offer and returning to that team is especially grim), and Noel is potentially costing himself millions of dollars.
Over at the mothership, Tom Ziller takes a more pro-Mavs management approach, criticizing Noel for the money he turned down despite his brief and injury plagued NBA career.
Noel’s saga isn’t even over yet, though his restricted free agency is. Only next summer and beyond will we see who bet smartly this summer: Noel on himself, or the Mavericks on patience. Taking the qualifying offer is always an admirable flex. It shows faith in one’s own ability to succeed, which in itself is an important ingredient in success.
But Noel also can’t ignore that this flex came only after a calamitous campaign to take that which he hasn’t earned. By turning down a big offer, Noel gave himself no choice but to practically give away his services for one more year.
If he wants to blame someone for his pay cut, he needs to find a mirror.
Even with how I feel about the Mavs blowing this Noel situation, I can’t deny how boneheaded Noel looks in all of this.
BBall Breakdown: Will Nerlens Noel regret Betting on Himself with a Qualifying Offer?
Bryan Toporek goes into the facts and tries to make sense of the Noel situation.
It’s easy to understand Noel’s frustration with the Mavericks’ offer. When the likes of Bismack Biyombo and Joakim Noah inked four-year, $72 million contracts last summer, that seemed to set a baseline for Noel’s free-agent value. Though the salary cap didn’t rise as drastically as expected, it still jumped $5 million between 2016-17 and this coming season, giving Noel even more reason to believe he’d surpass the deals Noah and Biyombo received.
Instead, a series of market forces conspired against him, crushing his chances of earning anywhere close to a max deal.
This is the part that sucks the most. It’s hard to blame Noel when he saw the deals being handed out to centers much, much worse than him. How could he not get upset or expect as much? Sure, he failed to understand the market, but the market isn’t doing him any favors and it’s not supplying him with the contract he would have gotten 12 months prior.
Adi Joseph goes over the unsettling truth: no matter what side of these negotiations you stand on, this is just a bad thing to happen for all parties. It’s a total breakdown in business and negotiating.
Noel is a talented big man with a chance to be one of the best defensive players in the NBA. His athleticism and versatility make him a good fit on both ends for a game increasingly driven by pick-and-roll offense. He also has missed a full season already, along with 46 games the past two years.
Now he's taking a big bet on himself, for better or worse.
Whether you side with the Mavericks front office because you don’t believe Noel is worth the max or take Noel’s side as talented players dictate how this league goes, it’s just bad all around. Noel should have a long-term contract right now, and the Mavericks shouldn’t risk losing a key piece of the franchise after one year.