He was supposed to be a sought-after free agent, but he’s stuck at an impasse with Dallas. What happened?
And then there was one, 6-foot-11, with a faulty left knee. Of the most alluring free agents this offseason, only Nerlens Noel remains unsigned. The Dallas big man has until October 16 before any decisions need be made, and there’s always the $5.8 million qualifying offer the Mavericks extended his way in June. But he was never meant to still be on the table, seemingly alone in betting on himself.
Dealt to Dallas from a Philly storage unit of NBA bigs in February, Noel finished the season projected to become a sought-after restricted free agent. His ho-hum stats (8.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game) are filled with caveats — with the 76ers he was never healthy; with the Mavs he sacrificed floor time for the greater tanking good — but Noel’s shot-blocking and rim-running still make him glow with modern big-man upside.
Teams want him, or so reports said. He’ll be offered maximum contracts, or so reports said. He’s someone Dallas has “got to get signed,” or so Rick Carlisle said. But nearly a month in, the prized 23-year-old hasn’t accepted an offer sheet from any organization. To borrow a line from ’90s PBS, where in the world is Nerlens Noel?
He was spotted in Vegas alongside Mark Cuban for a Mavs summer league game —
— and was working out with the team in Dallas the month prior. So the better question may be, why hasn’t a deal been struck between the organization — who after re-signing Dirk Nowitzki to bread crumbs, had enough space to match even a $24.75 million max contract — and the center they traded for barely five months ago? Lowballing. Or that’s what Noel’s agent, Happy Walters, is calling the delay.
“We’re very disappointed with where things stand,” Walters said. “Nerlens loves Dallas and spent June there working out, but we’re still waiting on a serious offer.” Rumors put the Mavericks’…