2017 NBA free agency grades: Dallas Mavericks retain Nerlens Noel

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 26: Nerlens Noel
DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 26: Nerlens Noel /

The long-standing question that had been looming over the Dallas Mavericks has finally come to a conclusion as they have retained restricted free agent Nerlens Noel on a one-year, $4.1 million qualifying offer.

The saga that has been hanging over the Dallas Mavericks for much of the summer has finally been resolved.

Early Saturday afternoon, ESPN‘s Chris Haynes reported that the Mavericks have retained restricted free agent Nerlens Noel via the qualifying offer, which equates for $4.1 million for one year.

This brings a close to one of the few restricted free agency cases that have lasted for much of the offseason and after a few twists and turns, it’s a disappointing result for the 23-year-old Noel since he will return back to free agency next summer, only next time as an unrestricted free agent.

As both Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon of ESPN noted after Haynes’ report, Noel had declined the Mavs’ offer of four years, $70 million once free agency opened back in July and asked for a max offer instead. As a result of Noel’s demand, the Mavericks pulled their offer and it was no longer on the table by the time he had finally signed.

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This result comes days after Noel switched agents and signed with Rich Paul, who dealt with a similar restricted free agency case with Cleveland Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson around this time two years ago.

In Haynes’ detailed report on the signing, Paul signed on to represent Noel with the intentions that he would pursue unrestricted free agency next year.

Acquired by the Mavericks on the day of the trade deadline last year, Noel made a solid first impression once he arrived in Dallas. In his 22 appearances with the team, he averaged 8.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 22 minutes per game.

Although Noel has battled a variety of injuries since coming to the league, ranging from serious ones to nagging knocks, he’s in the midst of realizing his potential as an athletic defensive anchor.

Although there are bigger stakes to this gamble on Noel’s part than ones he previously took, betting on himself is nothing new for him at this point since wanting to prove what he’s capable of is what drew him to Dallas in the first place from the Philadelphia 76ers last season.

But as ESPN’s Bobby Marks put best, it’s far from guaranteed that the offer Noel passed on in the hopes of earning a more lucrative deal will be there next offseason. With the small number of teams projected to have cap space next summer, Noel’s options will be much more limited compared to how many teams had sizable cap space at their disposal to start free agency this summer.

On the flip side, there’s certainly risk on the Mavericks’ part as well. While they didn’t lock up Noel to a multi-year deal that could have limited their future flexibility, they risk losing the Massachusetts native altogether if they become set on trying to attract one of the many big fishes that will be available next summer in free agency, which could force him to look elsewhere if he becomes dissatisfied in any way.

All in all, Noel ultimately taking his qualifying offer is a fitting conclusion to what had become a very prolonged, drawn out standoff between he and the Mavericks.

Next: Los Angeles Clippers: Complete 2017 offseason grades

By having a year to prove himself, very little will have to go against Noel’s way in his quest to earn a long and lucrative deal next offseason. Whether that payday Noel envisions will ever be on the table by the Mavericks or elsewhere remains to be seen.

Grade: B