In a move to help shore up the middle of their offense and defense, the Dallas Mavericks acquired Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel on Thursday in a trade for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and a conditional 2017 first-round draft pick.
Bogut will likely seek a buyout from the Sixers and try to land a job with a playoff-bound team, possibly in Cleveland, San Antonio or Houston, while Anderson will try to jump-start his young career with the Sixers.
In Thursday’s whirlwind, the Mavericks traded a 32-year old center (Bogut) for a 22-year old center (Noel), parted with Anderson, who flourished late in his rookie season but was inconsistent this year, and got two trade exceptions, worth $6.6 million and $1.5 million, that might come in handy when free agency begins.
The 2017 first-round draft pick included in the deal is protected (stays with Dallas) through the first 18 picks. If that happens, Philly would instead get second-round picks in 2017 and 2018.
Also Thursday, the Mavericks waived point guard Deron Williams, who had fallen out of favor with the team and been on the trading block recently. The emergence of rookie point guard Yogi Ferell made Williams expendable in the eyes of the Mavericks.
If no team claims the 32-year-old Williams and his remaining $2.5 million in salary within the 48-hour waiver window, he becomes free to sign with any team. The Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly interested in finding a veteran backup point guard for Kyrie Irving and could come calling.
Meanwhile, the 6-foot-11, 228-pound Noel had been the Sixers’ starting center until losing his job this season to Joel Embiid. The four-year veteran is a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Mavericks can choose to match any offer he receives.
“He’s an athletic big, he’s young, he’s got a lot of potential,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “He’s a rim protector and he’s long and he can finish around the rim.”
While averaging 19.4 minutes in 29 games this season for the Sixers, Noel produced 8.9 points and five rebounds per contest. He was such a force when he played that even Embiid predicted Noel will have a promising career with the Mavericks.
“I mean, here [with the Sixers] it was kind of hard for him to start unless they were starting us together,” Embiid said. “He is going to get a chance to go to Dallas and start and play the game that he loves.
“I think in Dallas, he is going to get the chance to restart. I think they are going re-sign him, and I think they are going to pay him a lot of money.”
Noel likely would have been the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, but slid to No. 6 overall and didn’t play the entire season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament while playing for Kentucky. However, he finished third in the 2014-15 rookie of the year voting in what essentially became his first season when he averaged 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
Last season, Noel averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks and became one of the Sixers’ cornerstones. But the Sixers had a crowed middle with Jahlil Okafor, Noel and Embiid on board and Noel became the odd-man out.
With the addition of Noel, the Mavericks (22-34) believe they still can qualify for the playoffs. The Mavericks, who play the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7 p.m. Friday at the Target Center, are three games behind the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
“A guy that can roll and really suck the defense in helps all of us, not only myself,” Nowitzki said of Noel. “I think that’s how our offense is – a big guy who has a decent roll and can be a presence at the rim on both ends, and if he’s healthy he can do that.”