Report: Multiple NBA teams willing to give Mavericks’ Nerlens Noel a max contract

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The Mavericks were barely on the fringe of the playoff race when they traded for Nerlens Noel just before the trade deadline, and Noel was on an expiring contract.

So, why deal for him?

Dallas wanted his Bird and matching rights this summer, when Noel will become a restricted free agent. The plan is clearly to keep him as the team’s long-term center.

But the Mavericks might have to pay a pretty penny to retain Noel.

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A source from another NBA team (not the Mavs) tells me that there will be “multiple” clubs willing to pay Noel his max once he hits the restricted-free-agent market on July 1.

What single source from another team could be positioned to know this? I’m a little skeptical this more than just assumption by someone with one team being passed along as certainty.

But it also might be an assumption based on solid intel.

Noel is talented and just 23. He should bring strong value to his team over the next four to five years, especially defensively.

On the other hand, the center market is saturated. Plus, teams – wary of Dallas matching – might not waste their time with an offer sheet, which carries a projected max of $109 million over four years ($27 million annually).

The Mavericks, whose projected max offer is $146 million over five years ($29 million annually), might be able to work the market to pay Noel less than his max.

But this report is an indication Dallas will have to pay the max to keep Noel.