One of the more bandied-about names in the buyout market has found a home, as former Sixer Nerlens Noel has reached an agreement to join the Brooklyn Nets, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Free agent center Nerlens Noel is signing a deal with the Brooklyn Nets, his agent @GeorgeLangberg tells ESPN. After completing buyout with Pistons, Noel joins a Nets team needing some size off the bench.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 4, 2023
Noel reached a buyout agreement with Detroit on Monday; he had been under contract for $9.24 million this season, with a team option for $9.68 million next year. By reaching a buyout prior to March 1, he will be eligible to participate in the postseason with Brooklyn, which would be relevant to Philadelphia given that the Nets would currently be the Sixers’ opponent in the 3-vs-6 matchup.
Of course, many Sixers fans had hoped that Noel might be interested in a Philadelphia reunion. Likely, Brooklyn represents an opportunity for more consistent playing time for Noel, who will want to showcase his talents for a new deal this offseason. The Sixers appear to have finally decided to see what Paul Reed can do with the backup center role, something local fans have been hoping to see for a while now. Reed even drew national media attention following his big performance in Wednesday’s win over the Heat.
The Sixers have also made it clear they intend to use P.J. Tucker as a small-ball five option more extensively once the playoffs roll around, and the team signed center Dewayne Dedmon in the buyout market. Dedmon’s arrival was given a lukewarm, at best, reception from the fan base, but Daryl Morey has maintained the veteran big man’s down period in recent times was more due to injuries than not having anything left in the tank. Dedmon has yet to make his Sixers debut due to a hip issue, but he has been upgraded to questionable for tonight’s game in Milwaukee.
#Sixers center Dewayne Dedmon has been upgraded to questionable for tomorrow’s game against the #Milwaukee #Bucks. He missed the last five games after injuring his left hip at practice. #FearTheDeer #philaunite pic.twitter.com/fvgujuxZG1— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) March 4, 2023
Aside from playing time, money might have also been a factor for Noel. The Nets still have their taxpayer mid-level exception available and could have dipped into part of that if Noel wanted a little bit more than the minimum over the remainder of the season. We’ll have to await word on the full contract terms.
In the end, a Noel reunion would have been fun, but Tucker and Reed are likely better options for 8-to-10 minutes per game in the postseason anyway. As long as Doc Rivers stays the course there, I wouldn’t sweat Nerlens taking his services up I-95.
Update: Noel’s deal with Brooklyn is a 10-day contract. A chance at immediate playing time seems to have been a foremost concern for the 28-year-old.