Following their second consecutive 3-14 start, the Dallas Mavericks appear to be going nowhere fast, even with their promising rookie point guard, Dennis Smith Jr. Making matters worse, franchise icon Dirk Nowitzki appears to have fallen off a cliff with regard to his play and the once believed “foundational piece,” Nerlens Noel is now on the outskirts so bad with head coach Rick Carlisle that his minutes are almost nonexistent.
In the case of Nerlens Noel, it appears tensions have only continued to rise since Noel’s rejection of Dallas’s 4 year, $70 million offer this Summer. Noel would instead sign a 1 year, $4.1 million qualifying offer, thereby betting on himself while making him an unrestricted free agent this offseason. While it is worth noting that Dallas will maintain Noel’s Bird rights, they by no means appear to have a good enough relationship with the young center to warrant much consideration.
So that begs the question then. What should Dallas do with Noel? Carlisle clearly isn’t interested in playing him as his minutes have only continued to decline as the season has gone along. Making matters worse, what little time he has seen has been so inconsistent and start stop that his ability to get into a rhythm and make a positive impact on the game has been neutralized almost entirely. To ask more of Noel seems unreasonable and unfair at this point, and I’m sure behind the scenes he’s letting people know it. Because of that, Dallas shouldn’t even both trying to resign him. He won’t stay, even if you finally offer him a max contract.
If Dallas’s intention was simply to keep his value low and then resign him on a team-friendly deal, that’s not only an insanely risky move but one that other players around the league will see and take exception to. You could in effect kill any willingness for free agents to come to Dallas by sabotaging Nerlens in such a way. As a result, the only logical decision for Dallas is to stop the bleeding by moving Noel while he still has value in his potential to other teams around the league. I doubt you get a first rounder for him, but you could perhaps recoup at least your second rounder. Whatever you do, it’s clear it’s time to move on and make the best of a bad situation while you still can.
If you think I’ve forgotten about Wes Matthews, don’t worry; I haven’t. The case for moving Wes is that he’s 31 years old on the worst team in the league, and his 3 and D skillset holds value to teams looking to make a playoff push. Whether that means Cleveland, a Portland reunion, or San Antonio, he will have value on the market. Moving him would not only be fair to a player who showed you loyalty when given the chance to back out of his verbal agreement following DeAndre Jordan’s 12th hour reversal, but would net you a couple young assets that could be decent role players.
Wes’s tenure in Dallas hasn’t been what we hoped it would be, but he’s well liked and respected enough, unlike Nerlens apparently, that Dallas could and likely will release him from the monotony of their downward spiral.
Whether they would be willing to do the same for Nerlens is anybody’s guess.