The Nerlens Noel and Dallas Mavericks saga took another turn on Wednesday with surgery on the horizon.
According to Earl K. Sneed, Nerlens Noel will miss 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury.
He will have surgery on the injured thumb in Cleveland, with the hope being that he can return to basketball activities before this year’s trade deadline.
The injury comes at an unfortunate time for the Mavs, who have been beginning to show signs of progress following their miserable 2-10 start to the season. Even though Noel has barely been playing at all over the last month, the Mavs are still hoping to have a full season to evaluate whether or not they want to give Noel a long term deal.
Noel, infamously rejected a long term deal rumored to be in the seventeen million dollars a year range this past offseason, hoping to use this season as a prove-it contract and cash in even more after this season.
The Mavs will now almost entirely rely on Salah Mejri, Maxi Kleber, and possibly Jeff Withey to play the majority of the minutes at the center position.
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Over the long-term, the Mavs have to be concerned with whether or not Noel will be back next season with the Mavs, or whether or not he is even beginning to mentally check out. Noel’s relationship with the Mavs hasn’t been all that smooth since the offseason, and his lack of playing time signals that Rick Carlisle simply doesn’t trust him enough yet.
Now that he will be out for at least another month, the long-term status of Noel is becoming increasingly hard to grasp.
The Atlanta Hawks were the only team in the NBA last offseason to show any interest in Noel as a restricted free agent, and the Hawks or another young team looking to add a rebuilding piece may consider making a move for the talented big man, possibly as early as this year’s trade deadline.
The Mavs didn’t give up too much in the trade to get Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers, but they have to be disappointed in the results they’ve gotten to this point.
The Mavs are hoping their fortunes with Noel to this point change quickly.