During the upcoming offseason, recent reports suggest that the Los Angeles Lakers may look to land upcoming free agent big man Nerlens Noel.
The 23-year-old is a former No. 6 overall pick who has not yet found his place in the NBA. But during his career, he has averaged 13 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2 blocks per 36 minutes. Could he find a home in Los Angeles?
“Where is Noel going to have the surgery? In Cleveland, hometown of LeBron James and a headquarters for agent Rich Paul, who reps both LeBron and Noel and yeah, it’s kind of an open secret now that the fellas are plotting ways to end up together, maybe next July 1 via free agency to the Los Angeles Lakers.”
James played pickup basketball with Noel at UCLA during the offseason.
Even if James doesn’t end up in Los Angeles, however, Noel could still be a good fit for the Lakers. Brook Lopez will likely leave as a free agent during the offseason, which would leave the team without a starting center.
Quentin Haynes wrote that he would play well as a pick-and-roll partner with Lonzo Ball (via HoopsHabit):
“Regardless of who Los Angeles brings in this upcoming season, Noel should rank highly on the list of targets because of his defensive value and the need at the position. Noel is a perfect foil for a team like the Warriors because of his ability to step out on the perimeter and stay with opposing guards.”
The front office reportedly expressed interest in Noel in January 2017. However, this was before Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka took over basketball operations.
While it’s unclear if the rumors about Noel and James have any validity, the possibility of him going to Los Angeles does make sense.