We were all under the impression that the Philadelphia 76ers were going to trade a center today, but the one that was traded surprised us all.
For the duration of February, it seemed like the 76ers were attempting to trade Jahlil Okafor, and they were close to completing a deal several times as it seemed like the front office and 76ers head coach Brett Brown. Everything was not as it seemed, however.
While the 76ers shopped Okafor around the entire day, the only trade they end up completing sent center Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks in-exchange for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and first-round draft pick.
Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid, who was considered the only untouchable center on the 76ers’ roster, posted his goodbye to Noel on Twitter, with his catchphrase “trust the process” included in the farewell:
Gonna miss my best friend but I'm happy for him… He represented the process since he was here from the start.. One more time>>> Trust It
— Joel “Do a 180” Embiid??? (@JoelEmbiid) February 23, 2017
Philadelphia will buy Bogut out of the $11 remain on his contract, and contenders like the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics are all expected to pursue the 32-year-old center once he officially hits the free agent market.
Trading Noel also opens the door for more playing time for Okafor, of course, but there was also be added minutes for rookie Dario Saric, who has had a very good stretch of games in recent weeks as he is throwing his name into the rookie of the year conversation.
For the Mavericks, it appears they now have a center for the long-term future, and one that can anchor their defense. Noel will become an restricted free agent this off-season, meaning the Mavericks will have the ability to match any contract offer he could receive this summer. Dallas is said to be interested in extending the 22-year-old Noel beyond this season.
Dallas now will employ a starting lineup of Yogi Ferrell, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, and Noel. After starting the year off slow, the Mavericks are now just three games back of the 8th seed in the Western Conference.
Noel is averaging 8.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and .9 blocks per game this season.
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