According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, Nerlens Noel has agreed to join the Oklahoma City Thunder on a two-year minimum deal that includes a player option on the second season. While the move is likely a one-year test run for Noel in order to boost his value next summer, Sam Presti has solidified the center position for at least 2018-19 with a reclamation project that should boost the second unit tremendously.
Noel is a former sixth overall pick (2013) and was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014. At just 24 years of age, he provides the Thunder with a young backup big man that figures to be a certain upgrade from Dakari Johnson. Noel appeared in just 30 games for the Dallas Mavericks last season — apparently falling out of favor with head coach Rick Carlisle. He averaged 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in those 30 games but has averaged two blocks per game per 36 minutes in his career — giving the Thunder a nice bit of rim protection and length off the bench.
As Royce Young pointed out on Twitter, the addition of Noel means the Thunder will likely move on from one of its current frontcourt pieces. While fans would prefer that be Carmelo Anthony, we’ll have to wait and see where Presti goes from here.
David Aldridge of NBA.com has reported that Paul George and Russell Westbrook were active in recruiting Noel — helping him pick Oklahoma City over the likes of the Lakers and Wizards. All in all, this is a move with a lot of upside for the Thunder and one that could pay off in dividends when the team returns to action next season.