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NBA trade rumor: Trail Blazers not interested in Nerlens Noel

ESPN reports that Portland will not be a suitor for Noel.

Philadelphia 76ers V Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

After missing the first 23 games due to injury and a couple others due to a benching strategic non-deployment of resources, Nerlens Noel is finally getting the chance to show what he can do.

He’s played 52 minutes over the past three games, and is averaging 10.3 points while shooting 14-22 (63.6 percent) from the floor. Even though Noel is doing his best to salvage his trade value in the somewhat limited playing time he’s received, one team that reportedly won’t be interested in acquiring his services are the Portland Trail Blazers.

In his article discussing Portland’s string of poor roster decisions,’s Chris Haynes noted the team is not looking at Noel as a potential target to fix their rim protection woes.

Although starting center Mason Plumlee has been solid offensively in his role as a Draymond Green-type distributor out of pick-and-roll action, the jury is still out on whether his defensive skills are enough to offset complications that stem from Portland starting a small backcourt.

A trade for Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins or disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers big man Nerlens Noel could help the team, but sources say they are not on Portland's radar.

From a needs perspective, Noel certainly makes a ton of sense. Portland is second to last in defensive rating, and 25th in rebounding rate. The Trail Blazers were relying on free-agent signing Festus Ezeli to anchor their defense, but he injured his knee before the season even started, and as Haynes mentioned, he’s probably done for the season. Meyers Leonard and Mason Plumlee simply aren’t good enough to clean up most of the messes their teammates create. Noel would be a huge help in that regard.

Leonard’s a career 37.3 percent shooter from three, so a tandem with him and Noel instantly make sense (like how Noel and Joel Embiid make too much sense, just not nearly as good). The 22-year-old spent most of last year chasing around fours while handcuffed to Jahlil Okafor for most of the season.

The real issue behind Portland’s lack of interest in Noel may be tied to finances. They threw a ton of money this summer to players like Ezeli, Leonard, Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, Allen Crabbe, and C.J. McCollum, giving them the second highest payroll in the league. Noel will become a restricted free agent this summer, and whoever is trading for him should expect to hand over a pretty big longterm deal.

Nerlens is tremendous in his own right, but he’s more of a role player instead of a centerpiece, and Portland spent all summer signing guys of his ilk. They’ve backed themselves into a corner, and now have to be cautious with where they place their money. Noel comes with his own set of concerns, and probably doesn’t check enough boxes to justify the price tag.

The Sixers will probably find a suitor for Nerlens at some point, it just won’t be Portland.

They spent too much money signing Evan Turners to make it work.

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