Thunder Basketball

BREAKING: OKC Signs Center/PF Nerlens Noel to 2-Year Minimum Deal

BREAKING: OKC Signs Center/PF Nerlens Noel to 2-Year Minimum Deal

Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports has reported that the Oklahoma City Thunder have earned a commitment from free agent Nerlens Noel. The deal is good for two years with the second year being a player option.

Nerlens Noel was the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft when the New Oreleans Pelicans took him and traded his rights to the Philadelphia 76ers.  With a torn ACL sustained during his freshman year at the University of Kentucky, Noel didn’t play until the 2014-15 season.

His first two seasons with the Sixers showed promise. Noel averaged 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in those years. His reputation as a shot-blocker grew as he neared two blocks per game.

Injuries to his knee and ankle brought inconsistency to his final seasons with Philadelphia. Upon returning from injury in the 2016-17 season, Noel’s minutes were cut down significantly, prompting him to claim, “I’m not an eight-minute player. So I don’t know what that’s about. I don’t really care [who he’s paired with]. I need to be on the court playing basketball. I’m too good to be playing eight minutes right now — that’s crazy, that’s crazy, that’s crazy. Need to figure this [stuff] out.”

He was traded to Dallas in February 2017 where he finished out the year coming off the bench for the Mavericks. He returned for the following season with Dallas until surgery to his thumb required him to miss 42 games until returning On April 3, 2018, he was suspended without pay for five games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.

The deal is reportedly a minimum deal worth $3.5 million.

According to reports, the Thunder were ‘aggressive’ in recruiting Noel. Pitches from Billy Donovan and phone calls from Russell Westbrook and Paul George helped bring in the center/PF on a vet-minimum deal.

Noel’s addition to the Thunder is easy to see. Sam Presti has shown interest in bringing him lottery picks with questionable reputations–Hasheem Thabeet, Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter come to mind. The athleticism Noel possesses gives Donovan more options with lineups as well as gives Steven Adams an adequate paint defending backup.

With Adams, Patrick Patterson, Dakari Johnson and now Noel, it is wise to assume some more player movement is on the horizon.


Thunder Basketball

Brady has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder since 2016. Graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 2014, he has lived in Oklahoma since 2006.

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