The Philadelphia 76ers agreed to trade power forward Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for a package that includes Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and a first-round draft pick, announced Dallas on Thursday ahead of the trade deadline.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical first reported the baseline deal. Marc Stein of ESPN noted the presence of Bogut in the swap and pointed out the pick is top-18 protected. If the 76ers do not receive the pick, it will convert to two second-round picks (2017, '18), per ESPN.com's Zach Lowe.
Bogut was not traded again before the deadline and will likely be bought out, with the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers interested in signing the center, per Stein.
Should Bogut hit free agency, he is eligible to sign with the Golden State Warriors, as the NBA's reacquisition rule doesn't apply in this case, per Wojnarowski. The Warriors are undecided about whether or not they will pursue Bogut, according to Wojnarowski.
Wojnarowski provided further information about Noel's long-term outlook in Dallas:
There's a reasonable chance he'll slot right in as a starter alongside Dirk Nowitzki in the Mavs frontcourt. Even if the team opts to keep Harrison Barnes in the first five, Noel should carve out a far more consistent role than he received in Philly throughout the current campaign.
The rebuilding 76ers entered the 2016-17 season with an overabundance of young post players, including Noel (22), Joel Embiid (22) and Jahlil Okafor (21). After the team won the 2016 draft lottery to secure the first pick and selected forward Ben Simmons (20), a trade became more likely.
While Noel flashed defensive upside across his two-plus seasons in Philadelphia, his limited contributions at the offensive end made him expendable. That was especially true since the team was seeking more dynamic scoring options while ranking 25th in points per game this season.
The Kentucky Wildcats product averaged just 10.2 points across 171 games with the Sixers. While he's shooting 61 percent from the field during the current campaign, he didn't showcase much range and has made just 68 percent of his free-throw attempts.
His effort to continue his growth was delayed as he worked to overcome a knee injury to start this season. Upon his return, he expressed concerns about a lack of playing time, per ESPN.com: "I think I'm too good to be playing eight minutes. That's crazy. Need to figure this s--t out."
Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer noted the forward sounded more content by January, but that didn't change his status as a trade chip.
"You now see how comfortable I can feel throughout the duration of the season, being at the place that I am at," Noel said. "So, right now, I feel pretty good. So we will just have to see."
Noel carries a lot of future value, even if his offensive contributions remain at a mundane level. He's a reliable rebounder, though adding a little more muscle to his frame (6'11", 228 lbs) could help him get even better, and he's a terrific rim protector.
The Massachusetts native averaged 7.6 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.6 blocks during his time with the 76ers. Basketball Reference previously pointed out his defensive box plus/minus places him in great company based on his age:
While there's no doubt he's an impact defender, exactly how good Noel will be during the prime of his career depends on his all-around improvement offensively. He would enhance his outlook if he could develop a moderately successful mid-range game.
Trading a player of Noel's pedigree (sixth overall pick in 2013) is always difficult because there's a chance he'll become a star with his new squad. But the 76ers didn't have many options as they looked to revamp the roster in order to begin climbing back into postseason contention.
So they'll take a chance on Anderson in their effort to find more guard depth. He never established himself as a valuable piece of the rotation in Dallas after the team took him in the first round of the 2015 draft. He averaged just 5.1 points across 106 career games with the Mavs.
The Virginia Cavaliers product should see more playing time in Philadelphia, where he'll probably have an opportunity to battle Nik Stauskas and Gerald Henderson to start at shooting guard.