Restricted free agent Nerlens Noel has reportedly hired a new agent with his immediate future still up in the air.
On Monday, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders reported Noel hired agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Paul counts LeBron James, Eric Bledsoe and Tristan Thompson among his other clients.
The move comes in the midst of a contract stalemate for the Kentucky product with the 2017-18 season approaching.
Nick Silva of ESPN.com reported Noel thinks he deserves a max contract, but the Dallas Mavericks don't share the opinion. Silva pointed out "Noel has zero leverage" given his status as a restricted free agent because other NBA teams don't possess the salary-cap room at this stage of the offseason to give him the significant offer sheet he desires.
"At this point, Noel can accept the $4,187,599 qualifying offer from Dallas, which would make him an unrestricted free agent in 2018, or sign the multiyear deal that is currently on the table from the Mavericks," Silva wrote.
Noel—who was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 draft—was with agent Andy Miller before moving to Happy Walters in December. According to Silva, Walters placed the onus on the Mavericks for the lack of progress with Noel's contract.
The switch from Walters to Paul is most notable for its timing. Chris Barnewall of CBS Sports called players changing agents at this point of the free-agency process "unprecedented" and suggested the contract discussions may drag on further because Paul has a history of lengthy holdouts.
Noel has been with Dallas since the Philadelphia 76ers traded him in February. He posted 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds a night in 22 games with the Mavericks after averaging 8.9 points and 5.0 rebounds in 29 contests for the Sixers in 2016-17.