Nearly three weeks into the league’s free agency period, the Dallas Mavericks and restricted free agent Nerlens Noel have yet to agree on a new deal.
This afternoon Nerlens Noel’s agent Happy Walters (what a name!), expressed deep dissatisfaction regarding Dallas’ talks with their starting center. In a statement to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, Walters explained that he is “very disappointed with where things stand.” Walters went on to say that Noel and his representatives at Catalyst Sports & Media are “still waiting on a serious offer.”
Noel’s status as a restricted free agent has cooled his potential market substantially. Teams often avoid making offers to restricted players because incumbent teams almost always match offers that aren’t gross overpays. At this point, the Brooklyn Nets are the only team with enough cap space to make Noel a “serious” offer. They appear to be preserving that space, however, looking to accommodate salary dumps as the year progresses. Dallas has the bargaining power here. Without any suitors across the league, the Mavericks will try to squeeze Noel into re-signing for less than he feels he’s worth.
If no attractive offer materializes, Noel could opt to accept $6 million qualifying offer from Dallas. That would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer. Signing the qualifying offer would be a massive risk, though. Noel has a rough injury history, so locking up as much money as possible for an extended duration should be high on his list of priorities. Suffering a serious injury next season could devastate his value in the summer of 2018. Moreover, cap space will be at a premium across the league next year. With less money available and the earning potential of most big men already dwindling, Noel might not get the big contract he desires in 2018.
These negotiations appear to be far from over. The staring contest between the two parties could continue if Noel’s side feels that the Mavericks keep low-balling them. How long will they be willing to hold out as the start of next season quickly approaches though?