There had been whispers that a Sixers-Nerlens Noel reunion could come to fruition.
Alas, true lovers of the Process were denied the opportunity to bask in that glory — and now we might have a clearer understanding as to why.
Noel is now suing Rich Paul and Klutch, claiming the agent and agency cost the Knicks’ big man $58 million. The lawsuit was initiated in Dallas on Tuesday, per Darren Heitner.
You may recall Noel famously turned down a four-year, $70 million deal with the Mavericks, the team that acquired him from the Sixers for Justin Anderson and a (fake) first-round pick. Noel chose to bet on himself. Unfortunately, the gambit didn’t pay off and Noel was forced to accept his qualifying offer of one year at $4.1 million for the following season.
Noel alleges that Paul lured the Kentucky product to his agency in 2017 by calling him “a $100-million man” at, of all places, Ben Simmons’ birthday party. Paul of course represents Simmons and LeBron James, among others. Noel left agent Happy Walters and signed with Klutch.
The suit goes on to say that Noel believes Paul and the agency did not make Noel a priority. Noel felt like Klutch did not do enough to get him the best free-agent deal possible.
That storyline is corroborated by, of all people, former Sixers head coach Brett Brown. Here’s the part that will piss many Sixers fans off: According to the suit, Brown told Noel that the team was interested in bringing back the 2013 first-round pick while he was in negotiations to join the Thunder — Paul did not respond when the Sixers reached out. Noel alleges that the Sixers were not the only team to have interest and not hear back from Paul.
Noel was ripped by a lot of folks for not taking that offer from Dallas. Now we perhaps get a little bit of a clearer picture as to why he chose not to do so.
In fairness to Paul — since it is a legal process and we’re only hearing one side of the story — there are other factors. Noel was dealing with a torn ligament in his thumb that required surgery and caused him to miss 42 games with the Mavericks. Certainly that was a consideration for Dallas as Noel entered free agency.
In any case, Noel has different representation now and recently signed a three-year, $27.7 million deal to stay with the Knicks. It’s not the four-year, $70 million deal he turned down, but it’s a strong payday for a guy who has become a solid NBA big man.