The Los Angeles Lakers are about to go into a crucial offseason with several of their veteran players entering free agency. Brook Lopez is one of those players, and rumors abound that the Lakers may not choose to re-sign the All-Star center as he might seek a similar deal like the one he has right now moving forward.
In a Lakers Nation podcast, host Trevor Lane suggested that Los Angeles could instead sign Dallas Mavericks center Nerlens Noel to a short-term contract if Lopez decides to leave and the team also misses out on a potential DeMarcus Cousins acquisition.
Lopez, who turned 30 last week, is in the final year of his three-year, $63.5 million contract signed with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2015. He is owed $22.6 million at the end of the season, and there are rumors that he might want to have another deal within the same price range.
Lane said that L.A. would most likely offer Lopez a lower one-year deal, which the former Stanford star will almost certainly reject. With that, the Lakers may be left with no other options at center but to settle for the injury-prone Noel.
While Lane acknowledged that signing Noel is “not a great plan,” he believes that the sixth overall pick of the 2013 draft has “shown some flashes of his old self” this season.
If Noel could remain consistent, then the former Kentucky standout would be able to meet the Lakers’ immediate frontcourt needs at least for the next season. The host went on to say that the fifth-year player just did not have the opportunity to log in more minutes under head coach Rick Carlisle as Noel was also having issues with the Mavericks organization as a whole.
The 23-year-old big man has only played 15.7 minutes per game this season, producing dismal numbers of 4.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 0.7 blocks a night in only 30 games. Noel had spent a lot of time on the sideline this year because of a thumb injury that required surgery to repair. He is currently in a one-year, $4.1 million contract with Dallas.
Just recently, Noel received a five-game suspension without pay for violating the league’s Anti-Drug Program. Mavs Moneyball reported that the said punishment “could end any discussion of bringing back Noel next year.”