Right after the Los Angeles Lakers signed LeBron James on Sunday evening, they re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. To connect the dots, don’t count out Nerlens Noel.
Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year deal worth $12 million to return to Los Angeles next season. The guard is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who also represents James. Another one of Paul’s clients is the unrestricted center Noel, a strong defender who does well in a transition offense. No team ran transition plays more often than Los Angeles last season.
According to Yahoo’s Shams Charania, the Lakers are one of four teams that Noel is considering in free agency. Last December, Mike Fisher reported that James and Noel were “plotting ways” to end up on the same team.
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. Los Angeles clearly wants to revamp their frontcourt, too. They’ve been linked to centers DeMarcus Cousins, Clint Capela and Amir Johnson over the past 24 hours.
Now that Caldwell-Pope is on the books for next season, however, we can likely count out Cousins and Capela unless the front office can somehow get rid of the massive Luol Deng contract.
Even though Johnson could be a serviceable backup, Noel is still just 24 years old and could revamp his career in Los Angeles. He would presumably sign for the room mid-level exception, worth around $4.4 million. Even if it’s just a one-year deal, it seems to make sense for all parties.