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Nerlens Noel Signs with Brooklyn Nets

After a buyout, the veteran free agent stays in the East.

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Free agent center Nerlens Noel has signed with the Brooklyn Nets. The fate of the veteran pivot had been in question after he was bought out by the Detroit Pistons on February 27th. Noel was free to sign with any of the other 29 NBA teams who could absorb him and has apparently come to an accord with Brooklyn, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Free agent center Nerlens Noel is signing a deal with the Brooklyn Nets, his agent @GeorgeLangberg tells ESPN. After completing buyout with Pistons, Noel joins a Nets team needing some size off the bench.

The 6’11, 28 year old Noel averaged 2.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 0.9 steals over 14 appearances with the Pistons this year, playing just 10.9 minutes per game. Though his aggregate numbers were small, his per-minute production was in line with the prior two seasons. Noel’s field goal percentage has plummeted to 40.0%, down from a career average of 54.7%.

After sitting out his first season with a knee injury, Noel has played nine years in the NBA. He’s known as a defender and an efficient scorer within 10 feet.

Many Portland Trail Blazers fans advocated for their team to acquire Noel after he was waived, citing the complete lack of players above 6’9 on the roster now that center Jusuf Nurkic is out with a calf injury.

After a player clears waivers, his former salary is absorbed by the team who waived him. His new team can acquire him for a veteran-minimum contract, making bought-out players attractive around the league. This phenomenon allows veterans like Noel to choose their spots among willing suitors.

There’s no indication the Blazers made any play for Noel. Acquiring him would have required them to waive a current player. They may have deemed the cost not worth it compared to Noel’s likely-negligible effect on any impending playoffs run...a run that is not guaranteed to happen at all with their current 29-34 record.

Even had they signed Noel, he would have been the third major rotation player absorbed in the last two weeks, a stretch for a team already on wobbly footing.

The Nets carry a 35-28 record, good for sixth place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

The Blazers face the center-heavy Orlando Magic tomorrow with a 3:00 PM, Pacific start time.