Mavericks: What the Nerlens Noel injury means for his future

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 13: Nerlens Noel
CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 13: Nerlens Noel /

The Dallas Mavericks announced Nerlens Noel will be out for the foreseeable future as he recovers from thumb surgery. What does this mean for his future with the team?

It’s safe to say this season has not gone as planned for Nerlens Noel and the Dallas Mavericks. What was supposed to be a season of significant development for the young center, turned into a wasted campaign.

After spending most of the season banished to the end of the bench, the team announced Nerlens Noel will need surgery on his thumb. The procedure should keep him out for quite a while casting doubt on his future in Dallas.

Season of Expectations

Noel joined the team last spring in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. Lost in the rotation, Noel was too darned gifted to rot on the bench. With restricted free agency approaching, the 76ers decided to move him to Dallas for peanuts, because after all, something is better than nothing.

While only playing 22 games with the Mavericks last season, Noel managed to show the skills that once made him a blue-chip lottery pick. Playing a touch over 19 minutes per game, Noel averaged 8.9 points and 5.0 rebounds with the Mavs.

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Downhill Slide

But after passing on a multiyear deal this summer, Noel saw the market for him dissolve. With the Mavs’ previous offer then off the table, Noel was forced to accept a 1-year qualifying offer.

Playing on a 1-year deal, this season was supposed to be a prove-it season for Noel.

If he played as well as many of us expected he would, he would hit unrestricted free agency with the potential to make all of that lost money back – and more.

But rather than inspire Noel, the 1-year deal discouraged him. Low effort and missed assignments led to Rick Carlisle’s dog house. And from there, he never escaped.

While the legitimacy of the injury may be questionable…

…What’s hard to question is the future of Nerlens Noel with the Dallas Mavericks. Or shall I say the lack of future with the Mavericks.

The chances are great Nerlens Noel has played his last game with Rick Carlisle and the Dallas Mavericks. He’s likely on ice until the trade deadline. At which time the Mavericks will do what the 76ers did only months before, and that’s trade him for peanuts.

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What does the injury mean for Nerlens Noel and the Dallas Mavericks? It means their time has come to an end. In much the same way Rajon Rondo came with such great expectations and left with such great disappointment, so does Noel.