Nerlens Noel is set to have thumb surgery and it is the best chess piece move that his camp could possibly make.
I once had a friend of mine that was a teacher that strategically scheduled a major surgery around their off time during the year. They simply waited until the summer, when school was out of session, to have surgery when they would have time for the recovery.
For Nerlens Noel, a similar situation is taking place.
The Nerlens Noel timeline in Dallas has been repeated a thousand times. Traded for to be the next franchise center, declines a big contract in free agency with Dallas, signs a one-year qualifying offer, benched, and now completely out of the rotation.
Noel has only played over 20 minutes in a game three times this season and hasn’t seen double-digit minutes since November 4th. Recently, he has received five straight DNP-CD’s.
I even sat down with Noel on Sunday and talked to him about his whole situation including his lack of playing time. I asked him point blank, “why are you not playing?”
“I really can’t tell you…I really can’t give you an answer,” Noel told me. You can read that whole conversation with Noel here.
Now, just three days later, news of an upcoming thumb surgery comes out.
Before the game against the Celtics on Wednesday, Rick Carlisle announced that Nerlens Noel would be having surgery on his left thumb. A decision that I believe is a chess piece move by Nerlens Noel and his agent, Rich Paul.
If you aren’t going to play him, might as well get anything that isn’t feeling right patched up. Also, what better way to take the spotlight off negative storylines around Noel than to have him partake in a minor surgery that will sideline him for a while.
Mark Cuban even said that Noel made the decision himself to have the surgery. Once again, if you aren’t going to play, might as well spend the time fixing up your loose ends for when you actually do get the chance to play on your next stop.
It is also worth noting that this is a surgery that didn’t HAVE to be fixed right now.
Just three days ago when I asked Noel why he wasn’t playing, the answer that would have made sense or covered for him would have been an answer centered around his injured thumb. But instead, Noel simply said he didn’t know why he wasn’t playing.
On top of that, he actually went through pre-game warmups on Wednesday shortly after Carlisle announced he would be having surgery and would miss 4-6 weeks.
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How often do you see a team announce a player to have surgery that will sideline him 4-6 weeks and that player go through warmups on the same night using the hand that he will be having surgery on?
Now, the injury is real. It is not fake or made up. Noel’s injury is definitely something that needs to be fixed, but I’m not sure Noel would be having this surgery if it was the thick of the playoffs or he was entrenched into the rotation.
If you are Nerlens Noel and Rich Paul, this is the best decision possible to make.
This takes Noel and his playing time out of the public spotlight as now this recovery will put him out right up close to the trade deadline.
Noel’s time in Dallas is numbered and this recent surgery news could be the best thing to happen to him this season.