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Nerlens Noel is a restricted free agent, meaning the Dallas Mavericks can retain Noel simply by matching another team’s offer.
The bad news for Noel? No one has offered anything. The bad news for the Mavericks? Noel’s camp doesn’t appear happy with them, and just a few short months after Noel arrived from Philadelphia in a February trade.
“We’re very disappointed with where things stand,” Happy Walters, Noel’s agent, told the Dallas Morning News. “Nerlens loves Dallas and spent June there working out, but we’re still waiting on a serious offer.”
Noel, 23, is coming off a nice run to finish the season, averaging 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 22 games with the Mavs. He may not ever live up the pre-draft hype after his one season in Kentucky back in 2014 — but he should at the very least be a solid, defensive-minded and athletic pivot man for years to come.
So what’s the holdup?
Well, according to the Dallas Morning News, Noel’s options are fairly limited. As Hoops Rumors noted: “He could accept whatever the Mavericks offer, despite these numbers not being to Noel’s liking. Noel could also sign the Mavs’ qualifying offer, which is about $6MM, and will remain on the table until Oct. 16. Finally, the big man could sign an offer sheet with another team that has sufficient salary cap space.”
But before you go thinking the Mavs are in complete control here, just know that they value Noel and they know they can’t afford to lose him for nothing. He has been a good fit next to the likes of team legend Dirk Nowitzki and some of the younger players, as well as under the direction of coach Rick Carlisle.
Is this a bad situation? Hardly. Contract negotiations can often get sticky in any line of work — and then all is forgiven and forgotten the minute deal is signed.
Still, this isn’t an ideal situation for either Noel or the Mavericks. Both expected him to be under contract already. Now, it could last all the way until training camp or beyond.