In the recent free agency, former No. 6 overall pick Nerlens Noel re-signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder with the belief that playing with Russell Westbrook and Paul George would give him a realistic chance of winning his first NBA championship. Unfortunately, things dramatically changed in Oklahoma City almost two weeks after Noel signed a new deal with the Thunder.
In just a short period of time, the Thunder lost Westbrook and George in separate blockbuster deals with the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers, and suddenly, they are headed into an inevitable rebuild.
With Russell Westbrook and Paul George gone, the Thunder are expected to trade some of their veterans and focus on the development of their young players in the 2019-20 NBA season. As of now, Nerlens Noel is among the Thunder players who are expected to be moved before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline. According to Matt Burke of Metro USA, the “most glaring trade partner” for the Thunder in the deal involving Noel is the Boston Celtics.
“Playing in limited minutes on a talented team last season, Noel was the most efficient player on the Thunder as he had the highest offensive and defensive rating on the team (per 100 possessions). Noel finished 21st in the NBA with 1.2 blocks per game. The Celtics have plenty of trade chips to cash in ahead of the deadline, and you can bet that Danny Ainge’s first priority will be to address the defensive worry in the frontcourt. Not for nothing, but Noel is also a Boston native.”
As Burke noted, the Celtics are currently in dire need of a defensive-minded big man that could fill the void left by Al Horford. The Celtics may have acquired Enes Kanter in the 2019 NBA free agency, but he doesn’t have a good reputation on the defensive end of the floor. Nerlens Noel may not have impressive statistics, but since he entered the league in 2013, he has proven to be a quality rim protector.
The Celtics have long been interested in getting the service of Nerlens Noel from the time he was still playing for the Philadelphia 76ers. However, compared to their previous negotiation with the Sixers, the Thunder aren’t expected to demand much in return for the veteran big man. A trade package including a young player or a future draft pick will likely be enough to convince the Thunder to send Noel to Boston.
Aside from Nerlens Noel, another potential trade target for the Celtics is his Thunder teammate, Steven Adams. According to a previous The Inquisitr article, the Celtics could acquire Adams by sending Jaylen Brown to Oklahoma City.