Dirk Nowitzki on Mavericks’ restricted free agent Nerlens Noel: ‘I’d love to keep him’

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Remember a couple years ago when LeBron James publicly advocated for the Cavaliers to re-sign restricted free agent Tristan Thompson? It felt like LeBron was throwing his weight around, especially because he shared an agent – Rich Paul – with Thompson.

Mavericks franchise player Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t been quite as direct nor does he share the same business ties, but he’s also not shy about stating his preference about Nerlens Noel.

Nowitzki, via Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

“He’s so young and so athletic. I’d love to keep him,” Nowitzki said. “I’m sure that is what the Mavs are thinking. … We obviously traded for him last year with the hope he will stay with this franchise for a long time.

“I understand the business side of it. He’s a restricted free agent. I’m sure [Mavericks owner] Mark [Cuban] and [general manager] Donnie [Nelson], the leaders of the franchise, are trying to play the right business move. We’ll have to wait to see how it all ends up.”

Of course, Nowitzki wants Noel back. Noel’s defense can cover for some of Nowitzki’s slippage on that end, and Noel just makes Dallas a better team overall.

The Mavericks surely know that. As Nowitzki said, they traded for Noel before last season’s trade deadline with the intent of re-signing him.

Dallas surely wants to lock up Noel at a team-friendly rate. At last check, the sides weren’t close.

Though the salary offers should be made mostly independent of each other, Nowitzki signed an extremely team-friendly deal. That allows the Mavericks to pay Noel more – at least for the upcoming season. Future years are probably Dallas’ bigger concern.

Still, if he wants to stick up more strongly for Noel, Nowitzki – who might be retired by the end of Noel’s contract – could remind the team of his discount. After all, LeBron ramped up his public lobbying for Thompson over time.

Here’s guessing Nowitzki, ever-loyal to the Mavericks, sticks with middle-of-the-road statements like these.