Nerlens Noel‘s last four games:
- Six minutes
- Two minutes
- Five minutes
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
“Look, minutes have to be earned,” Carlisle said. “At this point, if it’s between him and Salah, Salah has earned the minutes. There’s no doghouse here. There just isn’t. It’s pretty simple: You compete, and if you earn minutes, you get minutes. And you’ve got to compete to keep them, because it’s a competitive situation.”
Noel, via MacMahon:
“I’m good, I’m good,” Noel said. “I’m a very self-confident player. I know I can go in there and change games. When my number is called, I’ll do just that and help some winning efforts. That’s all my play style is about, is just winning. When I’m called on, I’ll bring my winning effort.”
The Mavericks reportedly thought Noel was worth $17.5 million annually last summer. Now, he can barely get playing time on a 2-13 team?
This is why players who sign the qualifying offer, like Noel did last summer, rarely re-sign the following offseason.
Noel makes a lot of plays defensively – some good, some bad. He needs playing time to refine his impressive tools. If they had him locked up long-term, the Mavericks probably would have more interest in developing him. As is, they could be leery of helping him just so another team reaps the rewards next season.
Though he’s saying all the right things, Noel would rightfully be frustrated by this situation. He has only one year to prove himself before unrestricted free agency, and he’s mostly stuck to the bench. The team with his Bird Rights, intentionally or not, is suppressing his value.
Dallas has a surplus of centers: Noel, Dirk Nowitzki, Salah Mejri, Dwight Powell and Jeff Withey. Mejri is playing very well right now, and Nowitzki is grandfathered minutes.
Noel will eventually get more playing time. Perhaps, this tough love benefits him long-term.
But this isn’t pretty right now.