But Dallas and Noel are at a stalemate.
Noel is the best free agent available, but he’s restricted, cap space is drying up around the league, and it’s a tight market for centers. There’s no solution in sight.
The Mavericks’ negotiations with Nerlens Noel remain far apart and the representative for the fourth-year center said Tuesday that the situation could drag on well into the summer.
“We’re very disappointed with where things stand,” Walters said. “Nerlens loves Dallas and spent June there working out, but we’re still waiting on a serious offer.”
I’m curious what Walters considers a “serious offer.” Of course, he leaves it up to the imagination. The Mavericks might disagree with his assessment.
Unfortunately for Noel, he doesn’t have much leverage.
He could always take the $4,187,599 qualifying offer,* but that would mean a below-market salary this season and no guarantee of a lucrative long-term deal next year. Even as an unrestricted free agent in 2018, he’d face similar conditions – a stagnating salary cap and a league devaluing centers.
*Noel fell one start of meeting the starter criteria, which would have given him a $5,848,910 qualifying offer. After coming over in a mid-season trade from the 76ers, Noel began his Dallas tenure coming off the bench. He soon moved into the starting lineup, starting 11 of his final 12 games. But he curiously came off the bench for a single game in that span, against Milwaukee. Maybe that was just about the matchup, and it was easy to gloss over when it seemed Noel and the Mavericks would reach a long-term deal. But the longer this drags out, the more distrust that April lineup against the Bucks could generate.