One of the biggest questions heading into this training camp is the status and role of Nerlens Noel. After Media Day that issue was clearly addressed by both Coach Rick Carlisle and Noel himself.
When asked if Nerlens Noel would appear in the starting lineup Carlisle responded by saying that he “wasn’t sure.”
Carlisle on Nerlens: “I’m not sure that [Nerlens Noel] is going on start”— Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) September 25, 2017
“I had a discussion three days ago with Nerlens’s agent, Rich Paul, about that and then two days ago Nerlens, myself, Rich, and Donnie Nelson were on a conference call talking about it," Carlisle said. “I basically said to them that I’m not sure that he is going to start.”
This situation has quickly shown that when NBA media and projections say ‘this is what is going to happen,’ it’s not always the case. There are other factors that weigh into a decision to start, bench, or sign a player than projections and what ‘seems to be the right choice.’ As Carlisle went on to explain:
“At this point in time Dirk at the 5 position is probably the best scenario for Dirk and for our team. And I just don’t think Dirk is the guy that is going to come off the bench as long as I’m here.” Then he reiterated his previous point as if to emphasize it. “There’s a very good chance Nerlens is going to come off the bench.”
One of the ‘worst case scenarios’ for Nerlens Noel has to include being buried on the bench and not getting enough playing time to actually prove what he needs to be compensated as he believes he should. A move to the bench could cause tension or discontent for a player that may already be harboring some of that. But Carlisle went on to reveal otherwise.
“He said he’s good with it. He’s in a situation—he and his agent. I give Rich Paul a lot of credit, he’s a no nonsense guy, when Nerlens switched over to him he had Nerlens sign the qualifying offer. And it’s pretty clear it’s time to go prove it.”
Prove It seems to be the theme of Nerlens Noel’s year and if this decision is in fact final then he may have gained another chip on his shoulder to motivate him.