Jerome Miron-USAT

According to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports, unrestricted free agent Nerlens Noel has selected Oklahoma City Thunder in his free agency sweepstakes on Monday afternoon.

Noel, 24, never has lived up to the potential of a top 10 pick. Drafted sixth overall in the 2013 draft, he was traded immediately to Philadelphia where he fell out of favor due to injury. Noel missed his entire first season due to knee surgery recovery.

Noel’s will sign a veteran’s minimum to join the Thunder. For his sixth year of service, Noel will get paid $1,841,849. He’s also agreed to a two-year deal. The second year is a player option. Which makes sense. So many teams are preparing for the cap spike of 2019. Noel, if he performs well in Oklahoma City could garner some real interest next summer.

While in Dallas, the Mavericks weren’t interested in winning. They say Noel fell out of favor but the consensus is Dallas didn’t want to win. They benched Noel and didn’t let him help other teams because they know there is talent there. So, he sat at the end of the Mavs bench and barely played.

It was a similar situation in Philadelphia where he was never given a fair shake. Always behind other players. At least in Oklahoma City, Noel will be given real minutes to relieve Steven Adams and Co.

Noel was reached out to by Russell Westbrook and Paul George. The narrative no one wants to play with Westbrook may be slowly fading away.

Noel played in 171 games over 2½ seasons for the Sixers before being traded to Dallas in the middle of the 2016-17 season. In Dallas, Noel’s plummet out of the rotation was worse than Nate Robinson in Oklahoma City. Rather than trade him, Dallas let him sit on the bench and rot. He played in 52 games over two seasons, averaging 6.1 points on 55.2 percent shooting. For his career, Noel is a 51.2 percent shooter, averaging 9.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in about 26 minutes per game.

Oklahoma City’s back up center position just became the strongest it’s been defensively since Kendrick Perkins’ days. Noel averaged 1.4 blocks per game last year. He’s long and super athletic.

There’s a slim bit of irony of a former Kentucky Wildcat big man replacing another Kentucky Wildcat big man in the lineup.

Noel is also considered the Los Angeles Lakers and the Washington Wizards. Lakers agreed to terms with JaVale McGee and then the Wizards General Manager Ernie Grumsfield said they were happy with Ian Mahinmi as their starting center. Which just led to Noel coming to Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City cap room is outrageous at this moment. However, as Sam Presti said: Scared Money don’t make none.

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Chuck Chaney

Founder & Editor-in-Chief.
Member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.