With things not exactly going perfect for Noel in Dallas, could the Boston Celtics use their newly granted DPE on the young big man?
Things really aren’t going as planned for Nerlens Noel in Dallas this year.
After turning down a reported multi-year offer from Dallas over $70 million in the summer, Nerlens Noel switched agents and signed a one-year qualifying offer worth just over $4 million dollars this year.
In return, Noel will now hit unrestricted free agency next summer.
Just a short time after Noel signed the qualifying offer and two days before Media Day in Dallas, Noel spent time on a conference call with Rick Carlisle where he found out he would be coming off the bench.
Since then, Noel has filled in for the injured Seth Curry in the starting lineup, but is averaging just under 20 minutes a game and losing valuable fourth quarter minutes to Dwight Powell. Not to mention the Mavericks are 1-7 through the first eight games of the season.
In Boston, things were different entering the season as the number one seed out East added Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward over the offseason. This obviously put them in the very exclusive group of NBA teams that would be gunning for a NBA championship.
Then the injury happened.
On opening night, Gordon Hayward broke his leg in one of the more gruesome injuries in recent history.
Instantly, everything in Boston was different and the Celtics were left figuring out what is next in the young NBA season.
After inserting Jayson Tatum into the starting lineup, Boston took the next logical step in applying for the Disabled Player Exception. A short time after, the NBA granted the Celtics with the exception worth roughly $8.4 million dollars.
So what exactly is a Disabled Player Exception?
The DPE is a way for the NBA to allow a team that suffered a major injury extra money to spend on another player through a signing, waiver claim or trade. The amount of the exception is calculated by taking a percentage of the injured player’s salary.
"“The DPE is limited to the lesser of the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception or 50% of the lost player’s salary. In this case, Boston would get the approximately $8.4 million exception” –Keith Smith on Celticsblog.com"
Boston was granted a $8.4 million exception, but the restrictions on the DPE are much more difficult to work around than other exceptions.
"Danny Leroux gave details of the exception on RealGM.com-Once the exception is approved, it can only be used on one player.-The one player must be on a contract that expires at the end of the season. No player or team options allowed.-The one player’s salary has no luxury tax implications on the new team."
Basically, Boston has $8.4 million free to sign someone, claim someone off waivers or trade for someone who is on an expiring contract and makes less than $8.4 million this year.
Enter Nerlens Noel.
Why Dallas Would Do It
I think it is safe to say things haven’t went perfectly since Nerlens Noel arrived in Dallas.
Like I mentioned above, Noel and Dallas couldn’t come to terms on a long-term deal this past summer and instead signed a one-year qualifying offer for around $4.1 million dollars. He came into the season betting on a big year only to find himself coming off the bench.
After losing bench minutes to Dwight Powell and hearing Rick Carlisle say comments like “Nerlens thinks he can do it” in regards to Joel Embiid’s all around play, things could be much better for Noel in Dallas.
It might not be the best PR hit to unload Noel for a draft pick, but if you think about turning Justin Anderson and two second round picks into a first rounder that could be in the late lottery in two years, suddenly it doesn’t sound so bad.
Dallas would then replace Noel in the rotation with more Dwight Powell, Salah Mejri, or Jeff Withey minutes. Draft pick wise, Dallas would then have their own first round pick in 2018, but would turn around in 2019 with two first round picks (Memphis would have to finish with pick 9-30 to convey it to Dallas) and two second round picks (2019 second rounder from Golden State).
With Noel set to hit unrestricted free agency, things aren’t looking good for Noel’s future in Dallas.
For this reason, Dallas could look to gain something before losing him for nothing.
Why Dallas Would Not Do It
With Noel signing the one-year qualifying offer this summer, he obtain the right to accept or decline any trade involving him this season. Almost like a mini no-trade clause.
If Noel did accept a trade this season, he would lose his bird rights this summer. Thus taking away the ability of his home team to go over the cap to re-sign him. This would be the main reason a trade like this wouldn’t happen.
Dallas might not want to do it either if they strongly believe they can change things around with Noel and have plans to hand him a massive deal this summer that they believe he couldn’t refuse.
Why Boston Would Do It
For a team that is shooting for a title, how they use this could be crucial to their success this season. Replacing Hayward is impossible, but they could go a couple of different routes.
I would assume they won’t go the free agent route as players such as Gerald Green, Matt Barnes and Boris Diaw don’t really move the needle. Waiting on a waiver claim could be enticing, but my guess is they will entertain the trade market.
Then you look at players on expiring contracts and making under $8.4 million on teams that are willing to shop them and the list dries up pretty quick at the moment.
That is why the 23-year-old Noel might be intriguing to the Celtics.
Currently, Aron Baynes is logging 19 minutes a night as he shares center minutes with Al Horford. Outside of them two, the next tallest player on the roster is Marcus Morris at 6’9″. Adding a Noel to the mix would give them an athletic, rim roller on offense and a versatile defender on the other side of the ball.
With Noel’s quickness, you could even get away with playing him and Horford together at times.
At the moment, the young Celtics team owns three first round picks in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Los Angeles Clippers’, the Memphis Grizzlies’ and their own. Giving up one of those picks won’t hurt their plans moving forward.
Why Boston Would Not Do It
Danny Ainge loves draft picks.
In all seriousness, Boston does love their draft picks and might not want to give up a first round pick for someone they could lose for nothing in the offseason.
With the current cap situation in Boston, the Celtics could only offer Noel a contract next summer no higher than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception at $8.6 million. Well below what Noel was seeking this past offseason.
They also might be able to obtain a bigger impact player by helping facilitate a three team trade with two other teams across the league. They could step in as the third team in the deal and absorb a contract from a team.
Why Nerlens Noel Would Approve It
In a season where Noel was banking on having a breakout season, the 2017-18 season has been everything but for the big man. So why not go to a different situation where you could improve your stock before hitting free agency?
Yes, Nerlens would lose his bird rights, but those bird rights only come into play if he plans on re-signing in Dallas. If he is set on not re-signing in Dallas, then giving up those bird rights wouldn’t be a big deal at all.
Plus, Noel was born in Boston and has personal ties to the city. Going to Boston and logging quality minutes on a team that could reach the Conference Finals should entice Noel and help his stock next summer.
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Why Nerlens Noel Would Not Approve It
As stated above, Noel will lose his bird rights if he is traded to another team and this could mean something if Noel plans on getting a large contract with the Dallas Mavericks.
If he believes the Mavs will be offering a large contract that could contend with other offers, then he might play his cards close to his chest and wait the season out.
He also might desire a situation where he has a high probability to re-sign after the season and the situation in Boston would be difficult considering the asking price he had last summer. As the roster is currently constructed in Boston, the highest offer the Celtics could offer Noel next summer would be the non-taxpayer mid-level exception for around $8.6 million or the MLE at $5.3 million.
Both are numbers that Noel is hoping to double or triple this coming offseason.
In the long run, Boston might not be able to get a more impact of a player with the exception than Noel. The real question is if Dallas and Noel would make their divorce official before next summer even gets here.