Nerlens Noel went to Dallas assuming to be there long-term, but is there scenarios in which he could be gone?
On February 23rd, the Dallas Mavericks made a trade for Nerlens Noel where they hoped to secure a cornerstone for years to come.
Dallas sent Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut and basically two second round draft picks for the 22-year-old Noel. But the wrinkle in it all is that Noel will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Dallas obviously made the trade knowing the situation and probably wouldn’t have made the trade if they didn’t feel strongly about locking in the center long-term this summer. But with that restricted tag, a team could sign Noel to a contract in which Dallas would have three days to match.
Similar to how Dallas got Chandler Parsons from Houston.
Even though most teams around the league might not waste their time with the situation if they assume Dallas will match, what if a team does come in throwing complete max money at Noel?
Dallas made the trade for Noel hoping to lock him in long-term but are they committed to signing Noel to the max? Are they hoping to go under-the-radar this summer and try to sign Noel on a bargain deal that is respectful to him, but financially flexible to the team at the same time?
Let’s look at a situation that could scare the Mavericks.
What if…Brooklyn decides to finally pull the trigger on a Brook Lopez deal this summer?
Over the last couple of seasons, Brooklyn has toyed with the idea of trading Brook Lopez, but has obviously decided to keep the big man each season.
This summer would be the ideal time to pull the trigger.
The asking price for Lopez back in the winter was supposedly two first round draft picks but with a loaded draft class this summer, the Nets could try to ship him to a team with a pick in the middle of the first round.
I’m looking at you Charlotte. Teams like the Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers could be teams that would be willing to give up their first round pick in the 13-17 range to land a talent in the middle like Lopez.
If Brooklyn sheds Lopez for a draft pick and doesn’t take back any big salary in the deal, Dallas should watch out.
Brooklyn is getting younger and has shown their willingness to throw money at younger players over the offseason. They threw massive contracts at both Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, but both of their respected teams decided to match the offer.
If Lopez is gone, what better of a player to throw max money at than Noel if you are Brooklyn?
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Brooklyn would have the cap space to throw a max offer at Noel for around $25 million a year considering the rise in cap this summer. Would Dallas be willing to pay that for Noel?
To my understanding, they probably would but that would obviously not be the first preference.
Outside of Brooklyn, the list of teams with a hole at center and big money to throw at him is small. Minnesota is an option if they decided to shed the contract of Gorgui Dieng. But, no matter the contract, Dallas would obviously be able to match.
So is “scared” the right word? Possibly not since Dallas will have the choice to let him walk or not.
But could Brooklyn make Dallas sweat in their decision-making this summer if they trade Lopez and throw a max contract at Nerlens Noel? Absolutely.
So if you are a Dallas fan, you are quietly monitoring the Lopez talks this summer and hoping they don’t trade him before free agency.