From the moment the New Orleans Pelicans drafted Nerlens Noel with the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, the former Kentucky forward has run into an unfortunate string of bad luck. He was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers on draft night during the early days of The Process, and while that isn’t necessarily part of his bad luck string, Noel missed his entire rookie season recovering from ACL surgery. When Noel was finally healthy, the fit with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor in a crowded 76ers frontcourt just didn’t work out.
Noel was traded to the Dallas Mavericks last February, and while his on-court play was promising, some bizarre contract negotiations from thi past offseason have seemingly soured the Mavericks and Rick Carlisle on investing in Noel long-term. The two sides eventually came to terms on a one-year, $4.1 million qualifying offer, which will allow Noel to enter unrestricted free agency this summer.
Despite the fact that the Mavericks have the worst record in the Western Conference, and Noel being a young player on their roster, he’s been a non-factor for the team this season. Over the last 13 games, Noel hasn’t played more than six minutes once, and has seemingly fallen out of Carlisle’s rotation entirely.
To make matters worse for Noel, Carlisle told the media on Wednesday afternoon that the big man needs surgery on his left thumb and will miss several weeks.
Carlisle applauded Noel’s professionalism through what has been another rough year for the former Kentucky star, while also bringing up the “hot dog incident” involving Noel.
The hope for Noel is that he’ll be healthy by the NBA’s trade deadline on Feb. 8 so another team can give him an opportunity to earn a nice contract this summer, as the Mavs have not appeared interested in doing that this season.