NBA Rumors: Nets, Mavericks Expected to Pursue Knicks' Nerlens Noel in Free Agency

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 14, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 26: Nerlens Noel #3 of the New York Knicks shoots the ball during the game against the Atlanta Hawks during Round 1, Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2021 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets are expected to be among the teams pursuing free-agent center Nerlens Noel this offseason.

Ian Begley of SNY reported the news, noting the Nets' interest will be dependent on price point. 

Noel spent the 2020-21 season with the New York Knicks, averaging 5.1 points, 6.4 rebonds and 2.2 blocks per game. He started 41 of 64 appearances, taking over in the lineup when Mitchell Robinson went down.

Coming off a campaign that saw him earn $5 million, Noel's price point is most likely higher this offseason. While he never developed much as an offensive threat, Noel is an athletic defensive presence in the middle and could net a salary in the mid-level exception range.

All four teams mentioned as fits have glaring needs in the middle of their defense. Brooklyn struggled to protect the rim after trading Jarrett Allen as part of the James Harden deal, Dallas seems ready to give up on the Kristaps Porzingis at the 5 experiment, Toronto's defense hasn't been the same since its title season in 2019, and Charlotte spent much of this season trying to make Bismack Biyombo work in that spot.

Noel would represent an upgrade, but it's likely the Knicks will work to retain Noel as well. He fits Tom Thibodeau's defense-first mantra, and the team has a ton of financial flexibility moving forward.