Matthew Emmons-USAT

It takes a lot of gumption to walk away from a guaranteed $70 million. For Nerlens Noel, that’s exactly what he did.

Last season the Mavericks reportedly offered Noel four years, $70 million but turned it down. He signed his offer sheet of $4.1 million and his issues in Dallas just continue to compound. A player never really found the footing him and the Mavericks hoped would’ve happened. Some of that has to do with Dallas and their losing ways. Why start a quality player when you’re trying to lose?

The contract issue was so wild last offseason, Noel ended up firing his agent, Happy Walters and signing with LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul.

On Dec. 6, 2017, Noel underwent many call a faux surgery. He reportedly tore a ligament in his thumb and would miss six weeks. Another setback for the big man out of Kentucky. Once revered as the No. 1 high school recruit, he tore his ACL at Kentucky, missing most of his freshman year and his first year in Philadelphia. Injuries have seemed to plague him.

On April 3, 2018, Noel was suspended five games for basically smoking weed, effectively ending his season and tenure in Dallas.

So, everything against man. Everything has gone wrong that has gone wrong. So, what can you do? You bet on yourself.

Noel’s decision to take the veteran’s minimum ($1.7 million approx.), is doing just that. While it’s a two-year deal. It provides two things for Noel: 1) provides security for another season if he plays poorly. 2) It provides an out to a huge contract if he comes in and just goes gangbusters.

It’s a big risk for the 23-year old. Going to Oklahoma City, a perennial power in the NBA, to redeem your chance at NBA stardom. It’s been done before in Oklahoma City. See: Dion Waiters.

Waiters’ time in Cleveland is easily marked by saying it was not fun for both sides. Waiters, though, would come to Oklahoma City and show that he is in fact a good teammate and the dude could actually play. He would eventually get a sizable contract in Miami.

Noel hopes that could be him. Spend a year in Oklahoma City showing his ability and get ready for all of the NBA money about to unload in 2019. It’s expect 18 of the 30 NBA teams will have at least $20 million in cap space next summer.

For once in his career, Noel will get to experience what winning is like. Throughout his career, he’s been on losing rosters. The most wins he’s experienced was 33 with the Mavericks in 2016-17 and he wasn’t even on the roster for half of those wins. Dallas tanked in the most obvious ways last season.

All it takes is one good season and you’re set for your life. Noel is still looking for that security. Get that elusive contract and then get that elusive ring.

If you do all of that, you can do what Tom Haverford says and “Treat yo’ self!”

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Chuck Chaney

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