Nerlens Noel Bet On Himself By Passing Up $70 Million, And He Lost

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

Nerlens Noel had a four-year, $70 million offer on the table a year ago.

But he turned it down, fired his agent, and hired agent Rich Paul under the condition that the Mavericks center would hit the market again in 2018.

He signed a $4.2 million qualifying offer, betting on himself to prove his worth in 2017-18.

He lost that bet.

Noel struggled to win playing time over the likes of Salah Mejri and Dwight Powell. And he required thumb surgery in December. His most memorable moment of the season was his eating a hot dog.

Now he’ll try to prove his worth on a team that already has one of the league’s best centers. Good luck with that.

Passing up on a sure thing and holding out with the hope of more money has become the calling card of Paul, the LeBron James associate and Klutch Sports founder.

It worked out for Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith, who had the benefit of their superstar teammate’s blessing. And for Eric Bledsoe, LeBron’s friend.

But it didn’t work out so well for Noel or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who turned down a five-year, $80 million offer from the Pistons in 2017 only to sign one-year deals in back-to-back offseasons.

And it also failed Shabazz Muhammad, who hired Paul at the beginning of last summer and fired him months later after negotiations with the Timberwolves and others lasted until September.

Obviously players have agency in their career decisions, and Noel, Caldwell-Pope, and Muhammad might have been the ones behind the decisions to resist on-the-table offers.

But risk-averse players might want to think long and hard about signing with Paul.

Unless they’re tight with LeBron.