As expected, the first night of free agency opened with a flurry. The news that dominated the evening was that of Paul George being traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Amidst all the commotion, there was very little noise coming from the Dallas Mavericks’ camp. That’s to be expected. While seemingly every playoff team in the Western Conference is currently locked in an arms race in an attempt to compete with the Golden State Warriors, the Mavericks are on a different timetable.
There’s only one free agent that anyone can assuredly link to the Mavs. That’s Nerlens Noel. Last season, Dallas traded Justin Anderson and what would become two second round draft picks to the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire the young center before the trade deadline. Noel is now a restricted free agent. Reports have suggested that he and his agent, Happy Walters, will listen to other teams’ offers. Fear not, Mavericks faithful. It’s highly unlikely that Noel jumps ship.
Because he is a restricted free agent, Dallas can match any off that another team presents to Noel. Additionally, Noel stands to see a higher pay day if he re-signs with the Mavs. The Mavericks can offer Noel a 5-year deal in the ballpark of $146 million. That’s if they offer him a max contract. Other teams are only able to give him a max 4-year deal worth around $108 million. So, there’s financial incentive for him to stay.
Then there’s this tweet from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon:
With Nerlens Noel, it's a matter of how much and when Mavs get deal done to keep their restricted free agent big man.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 1, 2017
After a late night phone call from the Mavs’ front office last night, it seems the two sides see a future together as mutually beneficial. That’s great for Dallas. Now it’s just a matter of coming to terms on a deal. Don’t be surprised if Noel receives a max contract or something close to it. Players like him don’t come cheap in today’s NBA market. Noel proved to be a valuable member of the rotation on both sides of the floor at the end of last season and, at only 23 years old, he fits right in with the team’s youth movement. He’s going to get paid nicely.
Dallas might not stop at signing just Noel. Dirk Nowitzki’s contract obviously needs to be restructured but Dirk isn’t going anywhere so that’s not a priority at the moment. Last week, the team made some minor moves, trading both DeAndre Liggins and Jarrod Uthoff to the Houston Rockets for cash considerations. These might seem like small moves but they could pay dividends in the future.
The trades cleared two spots on the roster, bringing it down to 13 from the NBA mandated 15. One will be used for Dennis Smith, Jr., who the Mavs took with the ninth overall pick in last month’s draft. The other allows them to chase free agents. So far, the Mavs have been linked to Jrue Holliday, who reportedly will stay with the New Orleans Pelicans, former Rookie of the Year Michael Carter Williams, and Ben McLemore. At this point, any player linked to the Mavericks is based on mere speculation. The front office doesn’t like rumors flying around the way the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers do.
Don’t expect the Dallas to be involved in any blockbuster signings this summer. It just isn’t their time. The team is building for the future. That doesn’t rule out a savvy move here and there. They’ve already pulled one or two out of their hat in preparation for Summer League. This summer will be a slow one for the Mavericks and that’s not a bad thing.
Follow Doyle Rader on Twitter at @TheKobeBeef