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According to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports, unrestricted free agent Nerlens Noel has narrowed his free agency hunt down to three teams and the Oklahoma City Thunder are in the mix.

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 played in 171 games over 2 1/2 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 could use a back up center. Dakari Johnson was serviceable but often unplayable for a majority of the season last year. He was a dominate player in the G League but the jump from the NBA from the G League proved to be quite stark for an immobile player like Johnson.

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

Noel is also considering the Los Angeles Lakers and the Washington Wizards. The Lakers are probably out in the Noel sweepstakes since they’ve just signed JaVale McGee and it is expected big man Brook Lopez is going to return to the Lakers. That only leaves the Thunder and the Wizards. While Washington can offer Noel a chance a starting since they’ve traded away Marcin Gortat, a real chance a title and best team success sits in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City doesn’t have a lot of money but they do have a $5.337 million tax mid-level exception to use. It still goes against the cap but allows Oklahoma City to get a decent player instead of a player at a complete veteran’s minimum.

You should expect Noel’s decision in the next day or two.

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Chuck Chaney

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