The odd odyssey of Nerlens Noel and the Dallas Mavericks continued this week when the big man flew to Cleveland to have thumb surgery. Cleveland.com reports that Noel had successful surgery at Cleveland Clinic and that, more importantly, it is expected that he will return to the Mavericks and play this season.
Whether he’s actually wanted back is a whole other story, but the fact remains that surgery on a torn ligament in his thumb will not take the entire season to recover from.
The surgery was performed by Dr. Steven Maschke. Noel is expected to make a full recovery and return this season.
Noel, 23, 4.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 18 games for the Mavericks. The 6-11 forward-center and former Philadelphia 76er will be a free agent this summer.
The report notes that Noel is represented by Rich Paul, who also serves as representation for Cavs players LeBron James, J.R. Smith, and Tristan Thompson. That’s notable given the rumor that James and Noel want to team up and play in the same place next season. That’s a bit of a wild rumor, but it wouldn’t be any stranger than the truth that has been Noel’s season.
Though he was thought to be a big part of the Mavericks retooling, he’s been on the bench for long stretches and there are rumors that the franchise doesn’t think he works hard enough. There was also that whole walking into the press box to get a hot dog during a DNP incident, which both Noel and head coach Rick Carlisle laughed off but is still kind of weird after the contract situation the two sides had over the summer.
Time away from the Mavericks doesn’t seem like a bad thing for Noel, honestly, but the question of what happens when Noel is healthy again remains to be answered.