Despite having a horrendous start to the season where he is barely logging minutes, Nerlens Noel’s positive attitude is noticed by Rick Carlisle.
Imagine turning down a $70 million contract to come into a season and not just come off the bench, but barely log any minutes in the biggest season of your career.
This is currently the life that Nerlens Noel is living in Dallas.
At the beginning of training camp, Noel found out two days before Media Day that he would be coming off the bench in Dallas. After logging 15-20 minutes a game over the first eight games, Noel has seen his role drastically decrease over the past couple of weeks.
Over the last four games, Noel has logged a total of 12:29 of playing time with one of those games being a DNP-CD.
When asked for reasons of Noel’s lack of playing time, Carlisle has repeatedly mentioned “matchups” for a reason and that “minutes have to be earned” in regards to playing over Salah Mejri.
After practice on Wednesday, I asked Rick Carlisle what exactly would be a good matchup for Noel. He praised Noel and his talents, but didn’t really answer the question.
"“Nerlens is a guy that can help us without question. Its been tough lately for him to get minutes and find good matchups,” Carlisle said.“I’m talking to him everyday. He’s got a really good attitude. He’s very supportive of the guys playing ahead of him. He’s a pro. At this point you just got to stay ready. He can help us with rim protection, rolling presence to the basket. Defensively he’s a guy that can get his hands on a lot of balls. He’s just got to remain ready.”"
This is something Noel has been a broken record with ever since his minutes started to decrease: his support for his teammates. Noel has repeatedly told me that he is staying ready and will support his teammates however he can.
From the outside looking in, there is no sulking on Noel’s front.
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When asked if Noel could play any minutes at the four, Carlisle was pretty blunt about that.
“No, flat out no. It just doesn’t work,” Carlisle said.
“Our overload at center makes it even tougher. It’s almost like we went to Costco and got a forklift full of centers. They are all good players and there is a limited number of minutes and with more teams playing hybrid centers it makes it even harder.”
It was another funny, snarky comment by Carlisle, but one that makes you think to yourself, “So why did you keep so many centers on the roster?”
It’s almost as if Carlisle is complaining about the roster makeup, but doesn’t he have a major role in how the team is made up? Is this a Donnie Nelson thing? Cuban?
Either way, the minutes at center should continue to fluctuate depending on the matchup and Nerlens Noel must stay ready for whenever his number is called.