Phoenix Could Still Be a Dark Horse For Nerlens Noel
With the list of suitors dropping by the week for Nerlens Noel, don’t count out the Phoenix Suns just yet.
Heading into the offseason, fans and media around the league speculated about the contract that Nerlens Noel would demand as a restricted free agent. Now, almost a full month into free agency, the money is about dried up and Noel is still without a contract.
Even with Dallas seeming to make known that they would match any offer sheet Noel would sign, fans where casually worried about teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks coming in with large offers.
Both teams continuing or entering into a rebuild with cap space to spend.
If Dallas was going to get Noel at a bargain price, they would need all of the potential teams to pass on Noel. Therefore, giving Dallas the majority of the leverage in negotiations.
With the latest Brooklyn Nets trade dealing with Allen Crabbe, the Nets are all but out on the possibility of offering Noel a sizable contract. Atlanta took themselves out of the running last week.
Is there any other team around the league that could offer Noel a contract around $20 million a year with a young core on the rise?
Enter the Phoenix Suns.
After the Alan Williams deal, Phoenix has around $6-7 million in cap space available. But they have their own free agent in Alex Len that is holding a cap hold of about $12 million.
If Phoenix renounces the rights to Alex Len, this would open up around $18-20 million in cap space to throw at Nerlens Noel if they desired. The crazy thing is, Noel would fit their team nicely and the timeline they are on.
The 23-year-old Noel would immediately come in as the starting center with other young pieces in Josh Jackson, Marquise Chriss, Tyler Ulis and more. Not to mention their young star in Devin Booker.
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Plus, with the recent news of the Brandon Knight injury, Phoenix would be eligible for a Disabled Player Exception (DPE) of around $7 million if they exceed the cap (according to Bobby Marks). If the Noel signing did go through and Dallas didn’t match, Phoenix could apply for the exception from Knight if they just inch over the cap.
So the motive would be there for Phoenix if they desired.
But this shouldn’t happen as the only story line around Dallas and Noel is exactly how much they will pay him. In this situation, Dallas would most likely match the offer sheet immediately and lock in Noel long-term.
I, personally, do not believe Phoenix will make such an offer.
Next: An Open Letter to Nerlens Noel
Even though the money well of free agency is all but dried up, don’t count out Phoenix just yet in the Noel sweepstakes.