August is here, and there are a handful of restricted free agents still twisting in the wind at this late hour of the summer. While names like JaMychal Green and Nikola Mirotic are very interesting, the most intriguing name left on the market is Nerlens Noel.
The still-young center is in something of a stand-off with the Dallas Mavericks, and at last check, the consensus was that Noel and the team weren’t close to a compromise that works for both parties. Now, Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki has weighed in on the proceedings and believes that it is “a little unfortunate” that Noel finds himself in this predicament.
“We’re looking forward to the future and the whole Noel situation is a little unfortunate I think. We traded for him to keep him for the long run. I’m not sure what the latest is there, but I’m hoping that things will work out and he’s coming back to the Mavs and we’d have a crew that at times can be very athletic — when I’m out of the game.”
At the age of 23 and with considerable upside, Noel and his camp were undoubtedly seeking something approaching a max contract this summer. However, the lack of cap space around the league at this point in the calendar makes that seem highly unlikely, simply because the Mavericks are not incentivized to cave to Noel’s demands with no obvious competitor in the mix.
On the flip side, Noel can threaten (at least to some extent) the team with the possibility of taking the qualifying offer, and as Nowitzki notes, that would foil the Mavs’ plans to acquire Noel and hold on to the talented center long-term. The most likely outcome remains Noel and the Mavs coming together, at some point, on a multi-year deal with a meeting in the middle. Still, the situation becomes more dangerous by the day, and neither party can feel wholly comfortable.