Nerlens Noel wanted to get paid. He saw what everyone, particularly big men, were getting last season — Bismack Biyambo got four years, $72 million — and thought it was his turn.
Didn’t work out that way. He thought the offer from the Mavericks was low, but quickly found out there wasn’t a market for his services, he couldn’t get another team to make an offer (the Mavs could match). So Noel signed the qualifying offer — he will play for $4.2 million then be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Mark Cuban would have preferred to get Noel to agree to an extension, but he told ESPN Dallas he’s okay with how things shook out.
I’m satisfied with it. I wouldn’t call it happy.
We made what we thought was a significant offer. Nerlens decided to bet on himself, and now we’re in a position where, if everybody comes out ahead this coming season, he’ll get paid, we’ll be happy, and we’ll go on with life. He’s not going to be the first player to bet on himself, and he won’t be the last.
And it’s unfortunate for Nerlens and other players. There’s a lot of other restricted free agents, particularly bigs, that are in the same position. Where last year the market was really strong, and guys saw players get paid that maybe they didn’t think deserved the amount they got paid, and everybody expected the cap to go up by another 10 million dollars, and when the cap didn’t go up that 10 million dollars, everybody got squeezed, and that’s just what happened. I think Nerlens understands that.
I’ve talked to him since and he’s like, “I’m ready to do this. Let’s go out and have a great year.” And he’s just got that positive attitude and that’s been great. Look, the whole time — I’ve got to give Nerlens props. While all of this was going on, he was very positive. It was like look, “Our agents are our agents, and they’re doing their thing, but I’m excited.” And so I give him a ton of credit.
Cuban sums up the situation perfectly — a lot of players misjudged the market. So they are settling.
Not Noel, he bet on himself. Hopefully, he can stay healthy, impress, and get his payday. But if you thought this summer’s market was tight, wait until next summer.