The Washington Wizards are in need of a center, an athletic one if all possible. While DeMarcus Cousins is a “long shot” in a sign-and-trade scenario, the Wizards may need to turn their attention elsewhere. Factor in Nerlens Noel, the underachieving former lottery pick, who is a free agent this summer. According to the Vertical’s Shams Charania, Noel has interest in signing with the Wizards along with two other teams.
Sources: Free agent center Nerlens Noel has narrowed decision on signing to these teams: The Wizards, Lakers, Thunder — with interest from the Pelicans.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 2, 2018
Since Charania’s tweet of information, the Los Angeles Lakers have signed center JaVale McGee, formerly of the Golden State Warriors. While it’s not completely clear how McGee’s signing affects Noel’s option of the Lakers, an educated assumption would be the Lakers would be out of the picture or re-evaluating its interest in Noel.
If so, that leaves the Wizards and Thunder as preferred choices. With the Wizards no question he is a starting center. He is the athletic big, John Wall hoped for.
Noel can be active and good fit with the pick-and-roll with Wall. He can protect the rim and command the post. He also can step out on centers who can space the floor. That’s if the Wizards get Noel to reach close to his potential or better yet his full potential.
Noel was traded during the 2016-17 season from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Dallas Mavericks, as he no longer fit ‘The Process’ in Philly. He then fell into Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle’s doghouse limiting his minutes and play through two seasons to 52 games and 18.4 minutes per game.
Last summer, Noel bet on himself signing the qualifying offer from the Mavericks for nearly $4.2 million after failing to secure max contract. He fired his agent, Happy Walters, shortly afterwards, later joining Klutch Sports which is ran by Rich Paul, the same agent and agency that represents LeBron James. Walters revealed Noel turned down a $70 million offer from the Mavericks.
If, the Wizards land Noel, it would be an accepting move considering the team traded Gortat and could not land Cousins because of its salary cap restraints. Noel’s time may have been limited over the course of the past two seasons, however, he was a 55.2 percent shooter and averaged 12 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and 1.7 blocks per 36 minutes with Dallas.
Those are numbers the Wizards have not had in recent years from the center position. And the odds of the Wizards signing Noel remains to be seen. If the Lakers are still in the running, Noel being represented by Klutch Sports could play heavy in his decision. The Lakers already scooped James and Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, another Klutch Sports athlete in free agency.
Unlike the WIzards, the Thunder do not present Noel a chance to start, as he would be behind Steven Adams on the depth chart. The interest from the Pelicans also could provide a roadblock for the Wizards. For the Pelicans, the interest in Noel is predicated on what happens with Cousins and whether or not he re-signs with New Orleans.
Considering Noel’s interests are in the same lines as Cousins sans the Thunder, the decision or word may not be immediately announced with Noel waiting for the dominoes to fall from Cousins’ eventual signing.
Can Scott Brooks and his staff iron out the wrinkles that are in Noel’s makeup?
If Brooks can, Noel could provide a much-needed boost on both ends of the floor that Wizards have not had inside the post.