Charlotte — After being away from the team for more than two weeks, Nerlens Noel’s time with the Pistons has come to an end.
The veteran center has completed a contract buyout with the Pistons, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The separation makes Noel an unrestricted free agent and allows him to join a playoff roster.
Detroit took on Noel’s 3-year, $27.7 million contract in an offseason trade to acquire Alec Burks and a couple of future second-round picks from the New York Knicks. He was owed $9.2 million this season and $9.6 million during the 2023-24 season.
Noel showed a glimpse of his dominant defensive presence as he played a big role in the Pistons’ win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 11. He finished with four blocks and three steals in his second start of the season, amid injuries to Marvin Bagley III, Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart
Buying out Noel’s contract opens another roster spot for the Pistons, who recently signed former Orlando Magic guard RJ Hampton to a deal for the remainder of the season.
Noel played sparingly during his time in Detroit, averaging career-lows in points (2.3), rebounds (2.6) and blocks (0.6) in just 14 games. He was used as an emergency option at the center position as the Pistons prioritized the development of Duren, Stewart and Bagley, who grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds against the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.