Mavs’ Cuban: Noel betting on himself

Nerlens Noel will have surgery on his left thumb.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thinks the return of center Nerlens Noel could be a win-win.

At least, that’s what Cuban told a Dallas radio station about Noel’s decision to turn away a longer contract and instead pick up a smaller qualifying offer.

“We made what we thought was a significant offer,” Cuban told ESPN Dallas. “Nerlens decided to bet on himself and now we’re in a position where if everybody comes out ahead this coming season, he’ll get paid.

“We’ll be happy and we’ll go on with life. He’s not going to be the first player to bet on himself and he won’t be the last.”

Noel was traded to the Mavs from the Philadelphia 76ers in February. He fit in well for the final 24 games of the season, earning the praise of resident star Dirk Nowitzki.

But Noel became a restricted free agent at the end of the season, and when he couldn’t find a big contract, he picked up the qualifier — placing him back in free agency next season.

In the process, Noel switched agents, signing with Rich Paul and his Cleveland-based Klutch Sports. Paul also represents the likes of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James and Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, among others.

Cuban said he spoke with Noel after the deal was signed.

“I’ve talked to him since and he’s like, ‘I’m ready to do this. Let’s go out and have a great year.’ He’s just got that positive attitude and that’s been great,” Cuban said. “Look, the whole time — I’ve got to give Nerlens props — while all of this was going on, he was very positive. It was like look, ‘Our agents are our agents and they’re doing their thing but I’m excited.’ So I give him a ton of credit.”