Editor’s Note: After this story was published, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the New York Knicks were trading Nerlens Noel to the Detroit Pistons as they continue to look to free up enough cap space to sign Jalen Brunson away from the Dallas Mavericks in NBA free agency.
Original story follows.
With the recent acquisition of John Wall shoring up the guard depth for the Los Angeles Clippers, the only hole left in an otherwise stacked roster is at the backup center position. If the Clippers can’t re-sign center Isaiah Hartenstein, their next best option may come in the form of a trade with the New York Knicks for center Nerlens Noel.
In a recent article detailing some recent NBA rumors and speculation, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported that “The New York Knicks have had exploratory discussions on trading center Nerlens Noel to the Los Angeles Clippers”.
Noel, who is owed $9.24 million next season, would fit into the $9.7 million trade exception that the Clippers generated from the Serge Ibaka deal this past February. Notably, Noel’s contract is too large to be used towards the Clippers’ $8.25 million trade exception that expires July 18.
Whether or not Noel will be worth the Ibaka trade exception is yet to be determined. The use of this is not without its drawbacks, and Noel may not be worth those. In which case, the Knicks do have a number of future draft picks that they may be willing to include to sweeten the deal.
And for the Knicks, the name of the game is “shedding salary.” As they try to maximize flexibility ahead of free agency, the Knicks are motivated to get rid of as much salary on the books as possible. After this deal, New York would reportedly be able to experiment with a total of $24.5 million, enough to “help the Knicks make an aggressive run at Jalen Brunson,” per Scotto.
If the Clippers were to trade for Noel, however, this would likely signal that Isaiah Hartenstein is headed elsewhere, which would be a blow to a highly-efficient Clippers bench last year. It’s likely going to be a quiet offseason either way, with the majority of next year’s roster already set.
Still, this could be a good opportunity to add a solid, defensive center, as well as acquire some more assets in terms of potential draft picks