Nerlens Noel signs $4.1 million qualifying offer to stay with Mavericks

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Nerlens Noel is betting big on himself.

The big man the Mavericks traded for last season with the goal of keeping as part of their future has signed a one-year, $4.1 million qualifying offer which keeps him with the Mavericks next season and makes him an unrestricted free agent next summer, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

The athletic big man signed the one-year, $4.1 million qualifying offer and will become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason of 2018, sources told ESPN.

The offer sheet was signed in Los Angeles this week, according to sources.

Noel, 23, recently switched agents, hiring LeBron James‘ agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group after a summer in which he was unable to fashion an acceptable multiyear deal from the Mavericks or garnish an offer sheet elsewhere.

On July 1 the Mavericks offered Noel a four-year, $70 million deal (which is the $17.5 million a year rumor that was out there). Noel’s current agent Rich Paul denies this, but his agent at the time Happy Walters confirmed it.

When Noel said no to the offer and asked to be maxed out, the Mavs said no and pulled the offer. Noel thought another team would max him out as a restricted free agent, but this summer was a much tighter market than a year ago and no offer came.

By the time Noel switched agents, there was no offer on the table from the Mavs, or at least one near the previous numbers.

With Dallas last season, Noel averaged 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game.

The big key for Noel to get paid next summer is to stay healthy — he has a long history of injuries and played in just 51 games last season, which is the thing that makes teams nervous. He has potential as a defensive big who can both protect the rim and switch out on the perimeter. He can score around the basket. Dallas liked what they saw, but didn’t want to max out him due to the injury concerns.

The other reason this is a big gamble for Noel — only nine teams are expected to have max money available next summer, and a lot of those teams are targeting the big name free agents (Paul George, LeBron James, probably Russell Westbrook and others). Noel is not in that class and again could find himself in a tight market. Noel’s agent Rich Paul found that this year with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who expected a max offer from Detroit and ended up with a one-year deal with the Lakers for $18 million.