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Nerlens Noel fighting for minutes in Dallas Mavericks' frontcourt

From NBA media reports

Nerlens Noel has started six games for the Dallas Mavericks this season, but has played less than six minutes over their last two games after getting DNP’d in the Mavs’ loss to Cleveland on Saturday.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle tried again this season to play Noel and Dirk Nowitzki together, but the Mavs have been outscored by 17.1 points per 100 possessions with the duo on the floor. So Nowitzki is back to being the starting center, with Noel competing for back-up minutes with Salah Mejri, who has been the second option each of the last two games.

ESPN‘s Tim MacMahon has an explanation from Mavs coach Rick Carlisle and reaction from Noel:

Center Nerlens Noel, who turned down a four-year, $70 million contract from the Dallas Mavericks before eventually settling for the one-year qualifying offer, did not play in Saturday’s 111-104 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers because of a coach’s decision.

Coach Rick Carlisle, who mentioned that matchups made it difficult for traditional centers to play against Cleveland, said that Salah Mejri had earned playing time over Noel at this point.

“Look, minutes have to be earned,” Carlisle said. “At this point, if it’s between him and Salah, Salah has earned the minutes. There’s no doghouse here. There just isn’t. It’s pretty simple: You compete, and if you earn minutes, you get minutes. And you’ve got to compete to keep them, because it’s a competitive situation.”

Noel said he wasn’t frustrated by not getting the opportunity to play Saturday night, emphasizing that he would remain ready.

“I’m good, I’m good,” Noel said. “I’m a very self-confident player. I know I can go in there and change games. When my number is called, I’ll do just that and help some winning efforts. That’s all my play style is about, is just winning. When I’m called on, I’ll bring my winning effort.”

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