On Sunday evening, the Los Angeles Lakers shocked the world by signing LeBron James to a new contract and taking him away from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since that point, the Lakers have continued to make some pretty big moves and they have a number of others in their plans. There have been plenty of rumors about Julius Randle, Tyreke Evans, and DeMarcus Cousins, but on Monday afternoon, the speculation was centered around another big man by the name of Nerlens Noel.
It didn’t take long for those rumors to be squashed, though, as Noel ended up reaching a two-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, as reported by CBS Sports. So far, there have not been a lot of details revealed on the deal, but it appears to be a good fit for team and player.
According to Lakers Nation, the chase for free agent center Nerlens Noel had been whittled down to three teams with a fourth sitting right at the cusp as well. The interesting part about that whole thing is that none of those four teams are the Dallas Mavericks who Noel played for last season.
That’s actually not overly surprising, though, as Noel had been relegated to the far end of the bench after the Philadelphia 76ers traded him to the Mavs. During his time with the team, he played in just 52 games, starting a mere 18.
Oklahoma City has done well this offseason and Noel is a great pick-up to go with Paul George who decided to stay with the Thunder. With Noel choosing to go to OKC, it’s going to be interesting to see where the Lakers go from here in their pursuit of another big man to play alongside LeBron James.
JaVale McGee has already agreed to a one-year deal with the Lakers and Los Angeles brought in Lance Stephenson on another one-year deal. It appears as if L.A. is working on keeping a young group of guys with James as the focus and defensive-minded free agents being signed to come off the bench.
There are two huge question marks in the 2018 NBA free agency season and they are Kawhi Leonard and DeMarcus Cousins. Had the Lakers been able to sign Noel, it’s possible that would have ended their run of interest with both of those big men.
Now, the pursuit is likely back on.
Nerlens Noel came into the NBA with a huge upside, but the trade from Philly to Dallas was probably one of the worst things that could have happened to him. Now, he has a chance to get back into the swing of things with the Oklahoma City Thunder who won’t only appreciate him, but are also legitimate contenders.