Nerlens Noel reportedly turned down massive contract offer from Mavericks

New Orleans Pelicans v Dallas Mavericks

There are only a handful of impactful moments left in NBA free agency this offseason, with most players and teams preparing to head into the last leg of summer at this point.

One of the teams that's not able to walk away from the negotiation table just yet is the Dallas Mavericks. While they may have one of the top rookies on the way in Dennis Smith, Jr., another one of their key young players remains a free agent. 

Nerlens Noel, the Mavericks' trade deadline acquisition, may be the most interesting free agent on the board. The big man out of Kentucky hasn't lived up to the big expectations placed on him coming out of college, but he's still just 23 years old with plenty of upside. 

The Mavericks are wise to continue pressing in negotiations, but it's not sounding like it's going to be easy to find a salary figure that works for both sides. Noel, who's dealt with concerning leg injuries throughout his playing career, is reportedly looking for a big contract. 

Noel already turned down a deal with Dallas that would have netted him approximately $17.5 million per year with the Mavericks, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. That's a huge contract for Nerlens to walk away from at this point in his career. 

Belief in Nerlens is largely placed in the potential he still has. A player that's averaged 10 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks through the first three years of his career isn't exactly top-dollar material, but young, athletic big men typically cost a premium to retain. 

New Orleans Pelicans v Dallas Mavericks

The trouble for Nerlens? It doesn't seem like teams are knocking down his door to be the franchise that swipes him away from Dallas. The allure of Nerlens' potential as an elite rim protector and finisher in the paint is there, but he remains unsigned.

That may be one of the reasons Noel decided it was time to switch his strategy, hiring a new agent in Rich Paul of Klutch Sports earlier this week. Paul and Klutch Sports famously represent LeBron James, so Noel may be looking for his new agency to bring an end to his uncertain future. 

The Mavericks have good reason to want to keep Noel, but a player demanding a huge contract without the numbers and performance on the court behind it is always a tricky situation. When it's a young former lottery talent, it gets even harder. 

Noel turning down $17.5 million per year is hard to fathom, but until he signs a new deal, the jury is out on whether it was the right move. 

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