All summer two Mavericks have dominated the headlines and neither of them are Dirk Nowitzki: Dennis Smith Jr. for his high flying ‘hold my beer’ highlights and Nerlens Noel. The ‘second coming of Tyson Chandler’ just recently signed a deal to return to the Mavericks but not the deal anyone expected him to sign.
As Obi Wan Kenobi once said, “You were right about one thing master, the negotiations were short.” There was no big pitch meeting with big name stars or cartoon caricatures to try and entice Noel. A simple phone call was all Nerlens wanted to discuss his future with the Mavericks. But what if it wasn’t a phone call? What if the negotiations happened on Mark Cuban’s turf and played by his rules?
If the contract negotiations for Nerlens Noel happened on Shark Tank it might go something like this:
*based on true events, but most of this dialogue is fictional unless linked and should not be taken seriously, but we know…someone will.
Nerlens Noel sauntered down the hallway with his agent, armed and ready to give a pitch to the Mavericks front office and any other interested NBA teams. Head Coach Rick Carlisle, President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Donnie Nelson, and Owner Mark Cuban were in attendance to get a deal done.
Before the pitch begins Nelson starts by reminding everyone, “Now, as a condition of this process if both parties cannot agree on a deal then our offer of $4 million for 1 year must be signed. This is to ensure that there is no scenario where a deal does not get done. Does everyone understand?”
“Ok, go ahead guys,” Cuban says as he smiles and winks at Nerlens who responds with a furrowed brow.
“Hello Sharks, my name is Happy Walters…”
(We’ll get there)
“…and my client is 6’11” All-Defensive-Team-Caliber big man Nerlens Noel. We’re looking for a $100 million dollar deal for a 4-year contract with your organization.” Walters said, frequently looking in Noel’s direction to see the big man nodding in agreement.
Immediately the Sharks look up from their notebooks with mixed reactions.
“Going into his 4th season in the NBA,” Walters continued, “My client is still only 23 years old with an entire NBA career ahead of him. Not only is Noel an excellent shot blocker but he can also jump out and guard players on the perimeter. No one else in the NBA can move like he can at his size.”
Nelson interjected, “But what about production? Last season we only had him for 22 games. That’s not a big enough sample size for us to give him that much.”
“Last year on your team my client averaged over a block and steal per game,” Walters declared. “The only other players to do that last season were Giannis Antetokounmpo…”
Donnie Nelson shoot a look down the row to Mark Cuban who fixed his gaze on the back wall trying not to make eye contact.
“Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins…”
A tingle goes up Rick Carlisle’s spine as he whispers, “Boogie…” under his breath.
“Andre Drummond, Gorgui Dieng, James Johnson, Andre Roberson, and Robert Covington…” Walters finished in a hurry hoping the last few names fell on deaf ears.
“Did you just say Gorgui Dieng? He signed for 4 years $64 million last October.” Nelson remarked.
Before Walters could respond Cuban made an offer. “Look, with your client’s injury history the best we can offer is $70 million for a 4 year contract to return to the Dallas Mavericks.
Noel looked up at the ceiling to do the math in his head, once he realized what the offer was he looked back at Walters the same way he looks at a drive to the rim…
‘Not in my house.’
Walters countered, “My client has the potential to be Defensive Player of the Year and haven’t we been saying all summer that he is part of the future?” Walters countered.
“That’s an expensive future,” Carlisle scoffed holding his iPhone in one hand and his Android phone in the other.
“May I have a moment alone with my client?” Walters requested. Walters then attempts to deliberate with Noel who continued to demand he is worth a max contract.
“Well, what’s it going to be guys? Do we have a deal?” Cuban asked.
“We do not, and frankly my client and I are disappointed and will wait until we get a serious offer. We both believe he is worth… *gulp* …a max contract and will not accept anything less,” Walters insisted reluctantly.
“Guys, your evaluation is insane and for that reason we’re out.” Cuban shot back.
“Wait, what do you mean out?” Walters demanded.
Cuban sat up in his chair, somehow looking both Walters and Noel right in the eyes, “It means we’re pulling our offer.”
After a few moments of stunned silence Nelson said, “Now you may reach out to any of the other representatives in attendance and if they offer you a deal then we will match it.”
“What if another team offers me a max deal?” Noel inquired.
Carlisle looked up from his two devices and said, “What team?”
Noel and Walters looked around. The room was dark and it was hard to tell if anyone was waiting in the wings to swoop in and make an offer—but there was no one.
Noel and Cuban did not break eye contact as Walters scrambles to find any other teams in the room darting from one side to the other.
“I see you over there Atlanta! Brooklyn, I know you’re at all of these meetings! WHERE’S BOSTON?!” Walters screamed frantically.
Noel maintained eye contact with Cuban and said calmly, “Walters, we’re done. Let the next guy in.”
“What next guy?” Walters asked exasperated.
As Happy Walters left the room the door flung open to reveal his replacement.
“Ok, Bron. Talk to you later.” Rich Paul holstered his phone and started rubbing his hands together. “Who’s ready to make some money?”
Noel laughed and embraced Paul while the Mavericks front office exchanged glances.
After explaining the situation Noel stepped back as Paul stepped forward to make one last impassioned plea.
“The previous offer is not a fair deal. My client is currently worth much more than that. The future is bright for this young star. Don’t get caught up in the games played. Look at the situations. First year in Philadelphia, where the team was a dumpster fire and then immediately attempts to replace him two times over with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor. Gentlemen, this is an opportunity of a lifetime. Don’t waste the assets you gave up to trade for my client, you will be sorry. Just last year Steven Adams signed a deal for $24 million per year, Hassan Whiteside signed a deal for $24 million per year…”
Cuban butted in, “Rich, that’s apples and oranges, the market was totally different last year.”
“There isn’t even an offer on the table guys, I keep hearing $17 million but that doesn’t seem to exist.” Paul griped.
Before anyone from the Mavs Front Office could response, from what seemed like 100 yards away, Happy Walters stuck his head back into the room and yelled, “IT DID HAPPEN!”
Paul whipped his head around to see Noel half wincing at the mess they were in and half looking to Paul for help.
“Look, the Dallas Mavericks will be worse off without Nerlens Noel. He is worth a Max Contract and we’re willing to prove it.” Paul concluded.
“You are?” Nelson raised his eyebrows and sat back in his chair.
“Then I guess we only have one choice,” Cuban said. “If you really think you’re worth a Max then I think the only way to do it is to prove it.”
“Then we’re all in agreement?” Nelson polled the whole room; Carlisle and Cuban nodded while Rich Paul looked at Noel. Then the whole room was looking at Noel, it was like the whole world was looking at Noel.