Dallas Mavericks center Nerlens Noel has been ruled out for several weeks after head coach Rick Carlisle announced that he would be undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. Carlisle did not have an exact timetable on when Noel could return, as he has missed the previous five games with the injury and will obviously sit out Wednesday night when the Mavericks host the Boston Celtics.
Noel has had a strange season: He opened the year by recording a double-double in his first game against the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 18. Since then, he has failed to score in double figures, and since Nov. 7, has failed to log double-digit minutes in any contest.
For the year, Noel is averaging just 12.5 minutes per game, scoring 4.0 points and snagging 4.1 rebounds across 18 contests (six of which were starts) before his move to the bench. Instead of Noel, the team has used a myriad of lineups, with Dirk Nowitzki, Maximilian Kleber, and Salah Mejri all seeing additional run.
As if his on-court performance wasn’t confounding in its own right, Noel had previously sought a monster contract during this past offseason. He was offered a one-year, $4.1 million qualifying offer by the Mavericks in June, waiting over two months before finally accepting it.
Dallas acquired Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers in February, having him start 12 of the 22 games he appeared in with the team down the stretch. Once the sixth-overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft out of Kentucky, Noel was named NBA All-Rookie first team in 2015 and has now seen his minutes dwindle in a less-than-ideal situation with Dallas.