As we noted in the first part of our series on the subject, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle labels Nerlens Noel a team "priority’’ as the center prepares to enter restricted free agency on July 1. Meanwhile, DB.com sources tell us there is a belief around the NBA that Noel will have "multiple'' bidders at the max level.
Maybe. But which teams, exactly, are ready, willing and able to give Noel the $25.25 million to start a four-year deal totaling $108.575 million … the sort of max offer that might cause Dallas to go with its hometown max of $25.25 mil as his starting salary and about $146.45 million over five years?
Owner Mark Cuban makes it clear the bond is in place for Noel to stay.
“I’m not allowed to talk about (negotiations),’’ Cuban told our guys "Ben & Skin'' on 105.3 The Fan, “but all I can tell you is he’s one of a bunch of guys who came in, they all got together and said ‘Let’s go down to the practice facility and start working out together. So they’re down there now and so that’s exciting to see, and he’s part of that group.”
The 75-Member Staff — in this case "DanSchwartzgan'' and "Kammrath'' on DBcom Boards — have helped do the work to illustrate that the Mavs may get some help here because of the limitations of potential bidders.
Who has the cap room to steal Noel from Dallas?
BOSTON: We suppose you can envision this. There is talk of them trading for another standout to add to their cast (like Gordon Hayward) … but why do that when you can just one via cap room. Noel at center. Horford moves to the 4. The Celtics can do this. Yet ... it's not exactly their MO. As our David Lord explains here, Boston's next move is likely for a true superstar at superstar money, not a potential one at the max. (With a Mavs criticism thrown in, too.)
BROOKLYN: They have Lopez, maybe their best player, at center. No go here.
DENVER: No, they've made it clear they're committed to keeping Mason Plumlee.
LA LAKERS: “Dan S’’ notes that the Lakers do not at present really have a center. … and they can manufacture $20 mil of room. Of course, that’s not max, thus lessening the threat here.
MIAMI: Hassan Whiteside is maxed here. Not a threat.
MINNESOTA: "Dan S'' says the T’Wolves can be a player here “If Pekovic comes off the cap … If Towns and Dieng can play together, can Towns and Noel? If you have Dieng already, do you pay more for Noel? Probably not.’’ "Kammrath'' adds, “Is Minnesota going to use up future room for Zach Lavine on Noel? I severely doubt it.’’
NEW YORK: Kammrath notes that the Knicks are likely to have around $19 mil or less. So maybe not a major bidder here.
PHILLY: That’s obviously not happening, as Philly is the team that just traded him away.
PHOENIX: Maybe a problem, notes Dan S: “They can get close to $25 million by letting the cap hold on Len and others go. If you were them, would you rather have Len at $12-$14 mil or Noel at $22-$25 mil?''
SACRAMENTO: The Kings already have a stable of centers under contract.
And, we think, that’s about it.
Obviously, there are going to be teams that move off of money via trade or free agency that could add to this list of cap-room candidates. But we’re going to say that the list of Noel bidders is a short one. We’re also going to predict that Dallas has its ducks — and its priorities — in “order,’’ in the literal sense. The Mavs’ timing needs to be coordinated with the timing of a Dirk Nowitzki plan (saying goodbye to its team option by Jun 29) and really, the timing of every single thing they do; they don’t want to be “frozen’’ in the position of being a bidder on one player … and then end up losing that player … and losing others, too, because of that “freeze.’’
The Dallas front office has expressed to be both a confidence in re-upping Nerlens Noel and a “wait-and-see’’ approach to exactly how it gets done. And with the help of an exec from another team, we think we've solved a puzzle.
"I think,'' he tells us, "Dallas will preemptively make an offer, maybe four years, maybe five, while all the time being ready to simply match and keep any other team's four-year ($108-mil) offer. To me, there is some sense in giving him five years - though maybe or maybe not the full $146.45 million - if you believe in him. And if you believe in him for four, why wouldn't you believe in him for five?
"But,'' the exec continues, "what was so clever by (Dallas) here was the trade and what they figured would happen with restricted free agency. They gave up nothing for him in trade, can make a preemptive offer that he might sign, which helps their cap in terms of the order in which they can do other business, but can match any four-year deal at a price they knew might be coming. In terms of having a 'controllable' situation, it was pretty ingenious.''
We're going to need to see all of this unfold properly before we fully agree. But here's hoping for an "ingenious'' continuation of Nerlens Noel's career in Dallas.