Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel (and Randle)
In his fourth season, young Mavs center, Nerlens Noel is averaging career lows in basically every key statistical category. He’s barely getting on the court; of the 32 games this season he’s been active for a total of 18 of them. When he’s activated he’s barely getting game time, averaging a paltry 12.5 minutes per outing. For a man looking to prove himself worthy of a max contract after reportedly turning one down before the start of the season, a change of scenery looks not only likely but necessary.
Noel was touted as one of the best defensive big men coming into the league. Draft Express projected him to be “one of the most athletic big men in the NBA”, and his physical attributes made him a “rare specimen.”
Despite showing some glimpses early in his career, the Mavs' center’s career hasn’t panned out the way he would have liked, especially with the season he’s currently having. It’s not the best sign when the highlight of your season came when you went to go get a hot dog at halftime.
Julius Randle has had an outstanding season for the Lakers. He may be playing the least amount of minutes since his rookie season but his offensive efficiency is through the roof with the power forward’s effective field goal percentage at a career high of 55.9%. Additionally, when you look to his per 36 minutes numbers that’s where things really start to stick out. Across the board those numbers are at career highs even though his current role has him as essentially the Lakers’ third power forward behind Larry Nance Jr. and in-form rookie, Kyle Kuzma. Despite his improvements and highlights across the year, the Lakers’ front office is looking to get rid of Randle so they can create more cap space going into the next off-season.
That’s why a straight swap, Randle for Noel, makes so much sense for the Lakers. It was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowiski that the two teams have made contact about exchanging their players. Unlike Noel, Randle is likely to get some decent offers come free agency season. Therefore, the Mavs get an immediate improvement at the forward-center position and the Lakers get to buy low on a young-defensive prospect who’s recovering from thumb surgery, while also saving future money to make a play for some big-time free agents.
A minor tidbit to note is that Noel’s new agent is Rich Paul, the same as Cavs’ superstar, LeBron James. The Mavs big man also had surgery in Cleveland, so make of that what you will.
Both Randle and Noel are unlikely to be on their current teams come free agency and the fit for both players in their current situation isn’t working, so a move is best for all parties involved.