Mavs turn eye to future by getting Nerlens Noel, waiving Deron Williams
Schuyler Dixon | The Associated Press
DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks made two plays for the future Thursday, acquiring big man Nerlens Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers before the trading deadline and waiving point guard Deron Williams to clear the way for rookie Yogi Ferrell.
The Mavericks sent veteran center Andrew Bogut, young swingman Justin Anderson and a protected first-round draft pick to the 76ers.
The 22-year-old Noel was the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft. He clashed with the Sixers at times during his stay due to a logjam in the frontcourt that also included Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. He gives the Mavericks an athletic, defensive-minded power forward who will be a restricted free agent this summer.
“What an exciting journey it’s been,” Noel wrote on his Instagram account. “To have such an amazing city embrace a kid from Boston coming out of Kentucky the way y’all did, is something I’ll truly never forget. And even through the ups and downs I never doubted the love here and that won’t change.”
Noel’s fit in the rotation could be tricky early because of how Harrison Barnes has thrived in his first season with the Mavericks in Dirk Nowitzki’s spot at power forward with the 7-foot German playing more center.
But the trade fits with the Mavericks’ intentions to get younger and more athletic with Nowitzki’s career winding down and the team among the also-rans in the Western Conference with an outside shot at the eighth playoff spot.
While hesitant to discuss the trade before it was announced, coach Rick Carlisle acknowledged its intent.
“This is not something we would get into if we didn’t think it could help us and help our future,” Carlisle said before the team left for Minnesota for Friday’s first game after the All-Star break.
The move with Williams fits the same mold, with the 32-year-old’s departure meaning that Ferrell will take over at the point after a dazzling start with Dallas under a 10-day contract when Williams was hurt.
The 23-year-old Ferrell, from owner Mark Cuban’s alma mater of Indiana, played his way into a two-year contract.
Williams spent about a season and a half with his hometown team and was productive when healthy, joining Dallas after a buyout in Brooklyn. But he couldn’t finish the playoffs last season because of a sports hernia that required surgery, and has missed 16 games this season with injuries.
A person with knowledge of the situation told the AP that Williams plans to join LeBron James to give Cleveland the backup point guard the defending champion needs. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Williams has to clear waivers before signing with the Cavaliers.
Bogut ended up not being a great fit at center in Dallas after coming over in a trade with Golden State when the Warriors had to unload players to make room under the salary cap for Kevin Durant.
The 32-year-old Bogut was limited to 26 games by injuries but ended up coming off the bench when he was healthy. The Mavericks discovered early in the season that he wasn’t a good starting fit with Nowitzki, and Barnes’ success in Nowitzki’s spot played a part in that.
Noel missed the first 23 games this season with a left knee injury after battling a groin issue in the preseason. He started 133 of 142 games his first two seasons after missing a year because of knee surgery coming out of Kentucky. Noel has career averages of 10.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
“I’m not here to evaluate the trade,” Nowitzki said before the deal was announced. “We’ll move forward with that player starting hopefully tomorrow or the day after that. Potentially? Yeah. He’s what, 21, 22? He’s been around a long time already, but he can still learn and bring his youth and athleticism to this team.”
The Sixers will be without Embiid for at least the first four games after the All-Star break to finish his recovery from a left knee injury. The team said Thursday it expects the 7-footer to return March 3 against New York.
Anderson was a first-round pick by Dallas in 2015 but never could work his way into the rotation consistently. He averaged 5.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in 106 games with 11 starts for the Mavericks.
AP Basketball Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.