It is no secret that 2013 first-round pick Nerlens Noel is not thrilled about the situation within the Philadelphia 76ers. Throughout the offseason, there was story after story being reported about Noel distancing himself from his teammates and the organization. Noel even spoke out against the cluster of capable centers on the roster, calling it “silly” that the team had handled the big men in the manner in which they have. This coming offseason, he will become a restricted free agent, and it is understandable that Nerlens would be frustrated to find himself battling for minutes against two other top-3 picks, especially in his contract year.
Yesterday, General Manager Bryan Colangelo admitted that the team has not been in contract extension talks with Noel, sparking much panic and speculation amongst fans. The deadline for teams to seal extensions with 2013 draftees is October 31, and the fact that discussions between Noel and the Sixers have not begun as of right now makes it doubtful that a deal will be signed. Keep in mind that he is a restricted free agent after this season, so missing out on the signing deadline would not make it too difficult for the Sixers to resign their 2013 6th overall pick. If Nerlens were to make it into free agency, Colangelo would be given the opportunity to match any offer that another team makes for Noel.
Theoretically, in the current state of the NBA’s free agent market, Nerlens Noel would most likely be deserving of a contract hovering around $100 million, similar to that of Milwaukee’s Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo. Whether or not it is worth investing $100 million into the defensive potential of Noel is certainly open to speculation, but, as of right now, the safest move seems to be exactly what Colangelo is doing: let the season play out and make Noel prove that he is worthy of a hefty contract.
Trading Noel is not the safest option at this point, either. Despite the fact that he is a restricted free agent, and a team would have no trouble in keeping him on the roster, the fact that Nerlens is in his last year of a favorable contract significantly lowers his trade value, compared to if the team had looked to trade him last season. There is no denying that keeping the nucleus of big men for longer than one more season will be detrimental to the development of the players, but if Nerlens Noel is able to prove his worth in 2016-2017, he may force the Sixers to pay him.
Photo: Patriarca12 (via Wikimedia Commons)