The Detroit Pistons and center Nerlens Noel have completed a buyout and Noel is now free to sign with any club, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
After the Pistons were unable to swing a trade for Noel at the trade deadline, a buyout was the most likely outcome and by completing the buyout before March 1, Noel is now eligible for the playoff roster for any club he signs with. In the lead up to the trade deadline, teams like the Dallas Mavericks and both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers were reportedly interested in adding the veteran big man. I’m sure he will sign with his new team in short order, whichever team he chooses.
The half-season plus of Noel in Detroit was perpetually a bit awkward so seeing him bought out despite the team suffering a rash of injuries to its big men is no huge surprise. You knew things were a bit off as soon as media day when Noel said his goal was to re-establish himself as a defensive player of the year candidate while all indications from the team were that he would be a sparingly used end-of-the-bench player.
In the end, he turned out to be even more infrequently used than I could imagine. He appeared in just 14 games and averaged 2.3 point and 2.6 rebounds in 10.9 minutes per night. He started three games in January when the Pistons were down a few big men, including a rare Detroit victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. After the trio of starts, he plays a total of 10 minutes across two additional games and has been away from the team since the trade deadline.
The move frees up a roster spot for the Pistons. Detroit has been in player acquisition mode, recently signing RJ Hampton to a rest-of-the-season contract after the developing guard was released by the Orlando Magic. While Hampton is an athletic point/combo guard prospect, it stands to reason they’d look to add a wing or even another center with the spot vacated by Noel.
As the team prepares to face the Charlotte Hornets tonight, they will be without centers Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart or power forward Bojan Bogdanovic.